Bloodwork and Quintessence. A Poem by Joseph Armstead

The second hand sweeps the face of the clock,
suddenly freezing
Time itself stops flowing In and Out,
birthing impassive waves across the Weeping Ocean.
I am caught, locked, in the trembling grips of a nervous lull.
There it is again, a pause,
a space between the pounding
of bloody hammer on fleshy anvil,
a searing heat
in my heaving chest,
heart thumping, rhythmic thunder,
an interruption of the pulse
of the scarlet lightning
that sears my heart.
There it is again.
I followed rumors and legendry,
romantic mysticism,
along a trail
of passionate whispers
to your door,
all lusts lead to you,
a magnet made of flesh,
I am caught in the pull
of your gravity,
and you sparked
nuclear fission
in the lead-lined chambers
of my atomic heart.
I followed the trail
of errant electrons,
quarks, leptons and mesons,
colliding nucleii,
and in the subatomic fury
I saw your face merging with mine.
The tyranny
of human need.
It spills from a rent in the vein,
solid/insolid, fluidic components,
physiological and biochemical,
a Rorschach puddling on cold glass —
take a basic metabolic panel,
analyze the plasma for its
mineral content, get a
protein electrophoresis
polymerase chain reaction,
then examine arterial blood gases…
It is hard work,
this divination
through haruspication,
reading dripping entrails
slowly going cold.
I am bound, caged, by anxiety filling the space behind broken seasons.
There it is again, a pause,
a hole piercing the ephemeral fabric
of the constant storm,
a stutter in the unending howl
that sizzles like molten magma
inside the cavity that holds my soul.
There it is again.
The second hand shudders and again begins its inexorable pass…
How unlike
the sprouting of a rose,
a bleeding bouquet
born of the pulse
of the scarlet lightning
that sears my heart.
How like a blossom
from a wound.


Joseph Armstead is a suspense-thriller and horror author living in the United States’ San Francisco Bay Area. Author of a dozen short stories and ten novels, his poetry has been published in a wide range of online journals, webzines and print magazines. A mathematician, Futurist and computer technologist, Mr. Armstead’s poetry often defies easy description, but frequently includes neo-classical imagery, surrealist viewpoints and post-modern themes. All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop

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