She lops them off as quickly
as I sprout them.
Heads, I mean,
though not really just heads,
more like the many bleeding selves
I’ve dreamed myself to be,

but She cuts them free: the son,
the lover, the poet, the gushing devotee.
And such a lovely necklace she strings
from the pearls that were
my personalities.

God only knows how many more dogs
will drink my blood,
or how many more deaths
I must celebrate
before I wake to the blessing
of her small feet on my chest.

Meanwhile in the sword’s sheen I see
the slow shaking heads of a hundred Masters
saying, Neti, Neti, Neti, until I kneel
and once again feel on my neck
the razored caress
of her compassionate steel.

– Derek Hanebury.


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