stones from a fallen cairn

By Tom Hack 


His real name begins with “J”
the hook and crook of the alphabet, leading me

to slaughter or pasture, it didn’t matter,
the hook upon which i hung.

we started when i traced the space around his navel.
had he been a woman, it would be called the mound of venus. not to be
confused with the mount of venus, where thumb fuses to palm.

then it really started
with our hand on the

sometimes he seemed to me a lily.
so: do I gild the lily or let the lily breathe?

to the audience he introduced me as prodigal. the word does not mean one who has left and returned but one who uses resources wastefully; is recklessly extravagant. this distinction hardly matters: in my case, both are true.

I don’t have any photographs of us together, but I know there’s one out there, taken after a concert in December. We ran into each other in the lobby before the show. He held a glass of wine, one finger adorned with a ring shaped like a skull. As the lights brightened and dimmed, we separated to take our seats. I watched him walk up the stairs toward the balcony.

When the guitarist tuned her instrument between songs we texted each other, one of us wishing to be her fingers and the other, her guitar. We found each other again after the show and talked until a magazine photographer took our picture. We stood together, arms around shoulders.

To purify a chemical, one must dissolve it in an appropriate solvent, must allow the pure solid to fall to the bottom of the glass, leaving the impurity behind in liquid.

This procedure requires an initiation: the introduction of a seed crystal, to serve as the nucleus around which crystals may grow.

            In a way, birth.

Named for what is formed
when from the compound
comes a

A solution is saturated when it cannot bear even one more drop.

This is to say: I know why he left.

i know he’s writing a book and i’m afraid. i’m afraid to read it.
i have this nightmare, but only when i’m awake.
His words reverberate in me
and when i open my mouth,
His voice comes out.


Tom Hack is a writer and artist studying at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has recently shown work with the 50 Pullman Arts & Music Festival and the Queer Mixed Realities Collective. His favorite arrangement of birds is a murmuration of starlings and he is currently wondering why Drake hasn't returned his phone calls. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @yung_heathcliff.

© 2015