Beast-Headed

by Brian Clifton

Since labyrinths cannot be made
more difficult, they must be

                               made larger. I drag my hand across the wall

of his torso’s taut musculature.
Tell me who is more gone

*

                               I ask, the star
or the space around it? We are

watching 747s vulture the airport and listening to glacial

electronic soundscapes.
Our mouths gape
while the wings’ lit tips

                               furrow circles into the night.
The world is a tongue licking our outer ears.

*

The soft rasp of cars on the highway
slough their skins into our inner

                               labyrinths.
I don’t know, he says,
There is an anonymity in space.

*

The planes corkscrew back to earth. I think about Daedalus
being famous

for killing his own son. Tell me I am
                               burning, I say. You are

burning, he says. And my mouth
fills with skin. Like Icarus, I am famous

*

for going down, for falling.
                               Before airplanes

there were birds—how easy a labyrinth must appear to them.

They follow the jet stream’s thread
like liquid draining from the prick

*

of a needle in a choice vein. Before labyrinths, there were our
own bodies

                               twisting around each other,
looking for the straightest orifice to enter.

I grab his hips and tug him
into me. He says, Some skin
was meant to be stretched

*

to its breaking point—the chapped circle quickly opened

like the diaphragm of a camera
begging the night to fill it
                               with warmth.

My throat is an easy labyrinth. He grunts like a bull
                               and is gone before he arrives.