On Living with Pure O

Its wide expanse pours forth from chipped white –

the jaws of consciousness,

demanding sacrifice;

of self

of love.

Stepping forward, I offer myself up,

knowing no other way,

before the open waves

that strip me bare.

The lid of my mind pried open,

words burn across my eyes,

a flood carrying away joy,

prisoner of this destruction.

And what remains;

my skin ripped and torn,

at the ankles of my arms,

penance for crimes

I have not committed.

I stare and am reduced


The swell of the waves rises higher,

licking my heels, climbing

my frame.

I am borne away,

a lifeless vessel


I dip beneath the dark mass:

their tendrils close, cradling my scalp,

nurturing a piercing blackness,

of sacrificial ritual,

the everlasting heartbeat

echoing softly in my ear:

Sacrifice self,

sacrifice love.

But, for all this, all I am left with is cold coffee and a sense of doubt.

By Aaron Hammond Duncan