Portrait of Youngstown as the Archetypal Fallen Kingdom

by Dom Fonce

Youngstown State University

Golden Honey

In the pews, the whispers say

the Eucharist discs delight


the tongue with a dab of golden honey.

I smell a tart perfume not far away.


There is a nakedness being raked

up and caked against me. I have come


here drunk and contrary, losing myself

in these halls—a hum sways from the podium


dais. I want to meet my maker calmly.

I want to beat my faith off walls.


My father’s shadow murmured the Lord’s

Prayer whenever I looked above. My eyes


were young and seething. He died at fifty—

shriveled down and minced, powder-soft,


like a fat cayenne shoe dodging pestle round.

I am nearly twenty-five and facing my midlife.


Now my shadow mutters “Father, Father,

Father!” whenever the sun crosses my lips.


Every chest lined in these rows

is worn to bone by rosary


beads. Each heart skips a beat

together and each alike proceeds


in final pump alone. Lord, I offer

you appreciation on a cookie table.


My palms are bare and hanging limp

for you. In my eyes, I burn


a church in fear. In reality, I splash

my face raw in the mirror. You pat


my shoulder and kiss my cheek.

Two men enter my hideaway to empty


themselves. One says, haloed moons enchant

the crown with a flash of golden glory.


The other smirks at me and whispers,

I can tell your time has come today.


When you said the eye is a vortex that sucks

in full worlds like an ocean twirling through a pinhole,

I slammed mine shut like a confronted


mouth filled with secrets. I’ve glanced at you before

and watched suns Pirouette into suns, exploding,

imploding, making new light. Entire races let appendage


leave torso under suction this corporeal and cruel.

Earth has risen to jig and puzzle-piece under retina

beams so razor sharp. Stomachs sail and knees bend beneath


such expectance. The hairs of my arms have frosted-over

in the loneliness of space time and time again—your polar

stare—I’m barren and desperate and sparking a fire on the hills


of your cheeks. The rill now riding your lips strikes the image of moons

finally settling in air and me, a hole, no bigger than an iris, floating in what’s lost.

Portrait of Youngstown as the Archetypal Fallen Kingdom

In this scene, a cemetery, big as three towns, must sit

in the middle of the canvas. A splintered tree

must be nearing its fall, and a boy must walk past it

daily to see if it still stands tall. Only God knows

that its trunk will never snap to kindling shards

for the boy to make his fire with. The boy must be

a skeleton, and ghosts must twinkle in the foreground,

thin as newsprint, a spine balancing on a pelvis.

A building is placed off to the side, just a slip

away from transforming into a scattershot pile.

That is where the boy must rest every bruised night.

And there is me, a black cloud swirling by, looking

down at those of decay, knowing that the smell

of gold had once filled the air, feathering the world.

Contact UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity

The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is the professional association of undergraduate Honors programs and colleges; Honors directors and deans; and Honors faculty, staff, and students. NCHC provides support for institutions and individuals developing, implementing, and expanding Honors education through curriculum development, program assessment, teaching innovation, national and international study opportunities, internships, service and leadership development, and mentored research.

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