“New Lips for Old Lore” by Ian-John Coughlan

You have emptied the wet contents of your chest into the palms of a boy
Who will never be your lover because he loves only demigods, statues.
But when the stars are dim, he kisses you, his razor fingers settling
Upon the lumps of your hipbones worn pale and scarred by time.
I want to swallow you
1.8 people die every second of the day and you discover
What it’s like to be that .8 of a person, somewhere
Between flying and being buried, and the wolves
That are devouring your heart every minute,
Between mouthfuls of bitterness and black,
Ask you how you dare to be so soft
In the face of a boy who only falls
For the lips of Dionysus,
The eyes of Endymion.

You wake up next to him but it never happened. You shower, never able
To actually clean out the things growing inside your heart, blossoming,
But right now you’re standing behind glass like you’ve been stabbed
And the wound has just caught up, weeping and yawning.
So no-one loves you
Or no one’s loved you the way you wanted them to.
It’s just a body, you think, looking in the mirror.
Just a fucking body. You find an angle you like,
And you wish Medusa was real right now.
She’d grab your face and keep you still.
Forever inert. A statue static and cold.
It’s all gone wrong and you want
Planes to collide in mid-air.
Just to be still.
To be stone.


Ian-John Coughlan is a writer and visual artist. His artwork has been purchased for the Irish State Art Collection. His poetry has been published internationally. He writes slowly, has a collection of bones, and can only wear black. He currently lives in Tokyo.