Trilobite is an arthropodologist's delight:
many bizarre creatures; no two alike.

three poems

Tristan Beiter

At the filling station at Palmyra

there are no more white horses among the red-brick
walls, and no one is going to Nashville—
not that anyone could get there, with the dead
weather that tore down the porticoes
and left one column in the desert
still sitting, so the set in the corner
only gets rabbit television for the young man
working at the counter. The magazine rack
just has one title, Defied Augury, which
the whisper of scratched inscriptions says
is what the station itself did when we built
on the remains of an upstairs circus.
You can almost feel the chariots beneath your feet.

Via Dolorosa

At the top (which I never reach)
of the great glass open tower
I meet the three: the dragon:
long onyx-scaled builder, eyes fixed and yellow,
who makes the rain fall through the place the roof

should be; the princess, her fading, scale-touched,
kingdom—all cobblestones and blue-robed acolytes
in rain praying over endless streets—appearing
in the drops which hit like lights upon
the stair that lengthens as I climb
(clear stone, a cold that isn’t cold and never

melts); the Infant of Prague,
fading jewels and thin velvet
glimmering the safety of his sister’s subjects.
They tell what is found
in this barren place: glass, dust, water.
I keep climbing. The rain keeps on.

Drowned Phoenix: Fragments of a Ritual Doctrine Found on Potsherds Dredged from the Silt of the Susquehanna

The coming of the god was like drowning, but beautiful.

You can hardly see the mountains
through the water’s screen; the
river in the road where god has come

to melt into the winds
like me flying, more than made of flesh
but bursting out of it.

It has come to wash us, to make color rebegin, to leach, to whip, to cold. I dance like to fly and break and bleed, no body being all of no body and the sky filling the lungs and the dissolution of cold. The water flying up like wings and ink to wash everything away. The deep water, the wait, my blood, the smearing and the color. Black was blues and reds and the world becoming over again. We become when we enter the rain.


Break—eyes shatter
into the darkness and glass
[. . .]

the light
emerging as through cracks
in a stone cover.

Flood me. Flood me up to the edge of the world and take me into the sea [. . .] the knowledge that nothing survives change without changing. The bleeding ink, the chrysalis, the wind over skin until there was no skin, only wind.

[. . .]
[. . .]

I am the wind’s handmaiden. All air the voice of god: “You are my servant, and I task you as you have always been meant to be tasked, with the drenching.”

Return in the drowned
face. I surface, but
slowly breaking

in the rain and made
of the same as what this god
is made

the dance and the patter
of the rain and the colorless
and the giving of vision.

I bless what has been
taken. There is nothing
that cannot be borne.

The power and the flash brought to life as everything wanted the dance. There is nothing that cannot be revived.

I am needed: I cannot
refuse. Let
me be yours, let me

drink and feel the touch that
burns and cools and
know each breath I am less.


This shall be as beautiful as the horse we rode in on. The blue. White water, black ink; there is no opening unopened and the fixity has gone to be replaced. What spring is more than none and the door-place and the claw: the desire and the dance in the excess.

there is no whelm
and fragment or the one who
breaks. Like eyes,

leaking out, power

Please your obliteration of what I once was and that made me to return to the wind, to the cold more alive than the body. More than any body, the water and the frigid air—this when it knows to take the sky black and every color at once and beautiful and insurmountable. Become nothing but the glorious dance and the pyre and the heat and the light without heat; pure becoming without being, pure sound without sense and vice versa.

I am only the hollow
where there was lightning
and the god-voice that

came down to touch you
—the sound and the shape,
the world never the same.


The order covers the world and breaks like the light there is drowning. Observe it the same as that which knows to relinquish. To flee, to fill, to abandon, to drown. The god knows what is taken and only for a moment before it continues only by the letting to relinquish.

The calm is the same
as the storm it replaces
when the storm can hold on

no longer.
The calm is desire and the fury

The drowning will never
discolor the body;
it always discolors

it. The brilliancy
is brighter for the
blanching. The god

walked where there was
no land and the sun
broke behind the man

there once was.
The drowning can never
dissolve its discolors.

We can see the washing of the world. I feel the dance on my deep blood and the slow soak is the sound of his furious wild peace that blesses with its touch.


The dying of the god is needed. The dying of the body precedes it. The dying of the dying is what gives itself a name and there is nothing after it but that which came before.

[. . .]

To be a prophet is painful, but this god has need only of oracles. Can you hear it still in the sun and the stillness? The dance in your blood for the god? Learn to enter and refuse it into being. Learn to cease, to begin—as being utterly motionless.

Break like the light
from the eyes, like crashing
the edge, like water moving.

Give over and there shall be motion enough without you and nothing left in your body but the wind. The wind knows best when it knows nothing, and you went to serve in nothing. You shall be the mouthpiece of the trumpet played by god. To drown, to drink, to bathe, to fail to say what is meant, to bleed out.

The sun and the water
mark themselves over
as the same sign.

The tree and the bush a second,
contradictory one.
Perhaps it is poison

that shall be learned.
Hear it whispering still,
the eye breaking.

The sun is learning to walk all over again, uncertain what is being said. I hear the god whispering that I am its and the world is vapors.


This message shall be taken down exactly as it has been spoken, exactly as the back crawls and the fervor sits on being when there is nothing to return the pouring. In smudge and blood there waits the feeling of god’s kiss, which will be weaker than its touch. Nothing is permitted to end until the end has truly been recorded. I have had it asked of me, and I intend to honor what I have promised to the thing that comes, becoming here, long-limbed and icy and utterly, utterly, formless.

the world [. . .]
relearning its color, being
a becoming

and washed
like a broken glass.
The cold transformation, great.

The drowned phoenix has become, has spoken, has learned what it must be, and I a vessel to it. Have you heard the voice of god? Can you bring me the sun in its fading? And the river-and-sea in winged ascendance? I shall reflect them, revoice them, relive them, refound them if I shall be permitted to dance the dance that has been taught and allowed to be the conduit of the resurrection of resurrection, the one who both is, and is the enemy of, the end, who shall undo doing and yet change. The one who will become, who will be able to be nothing while being everything.

The rabbit, come to devour
the moon. The specter rising
up and you know not what

it means. You know who
has sent it. The departure of
the god, already relinquished.

There is no more lasting when the rain has gone, no more coming unto itself. We have become and will proceed, in transformed becoming, the continuation of the end of earth and body and end. The end which includes not just that of ends and endings but also beginnings. The wait is endless but at the end what rewards have been promised to those who let themselves dance, fill, fracture, who know what the sound that cannot be made might be saying. The final return and the fear of what had been left in the first place.

Know this in the wings of drowned phoenix: the end has not come; you have not yet become only vessel again.