Poetry: If What I’m Told is True, It’s Necessary to Name Only My [ ] To Survive the Fire & Myself, the Arsonist by Marlin Figgins

What is need? What is loneliness? Marlin Figgins investigates, discovering unexpected images and new questions along the journey: see his world of muddy bellies, his moon dangling tethers of want like arms of a jellyfish. “If What I’m Told is True” invites your own fistful of mud too.


If What I’m Told is True, It’s Necessary to Name Only My [ ] To Survive the Fire & Myself, the Arsonist.

Want. v. a desire [to be loved], especially when
bloodied & convinced. Need. n. a prayer fulfilled [to not be the only
one who is alone]. Mud. n. soil. where the ancestors live, what I will become
almost certainly; where the children play despite knowing they will be
scolded or swallowed entirely. Overcome. v. to stuff [a self-authored ending] face down
into the mud before (or as soon) it can do the same to you. No. ?. Unheard.
Refuses definition. Song. n. a poem— those bubbling from the mud, the knife,
the rope, the bottle of pills— those belying need & want & drawing you
to overcome yourself.


I’ve taken a paintbrush dipped in mud/ to my belly.
I’ve been overcome/ by its reflection of the moon.

I want/ to be bathed in something unfamiliar yet cliché—
a [ ] song/ maybe? It hasn’t yet dried; the Dark

surface no/mirror but a withering Black eye.
I’ll grow to need/ its wetness, to place a palm in its Dark;

a nocturne of need/ playing on the wind as I loose my lips into a Dark
palm of mud/that is not necessarily my own. There’s certainly a prayer

with no/ words to follow. [I am sorry/I am sorry.] I cannot
overcome/ this desire to search for a world that’ll hatch

in song/& lap up its own amniotic soup as
need desires. I want /to be found floating in its yolk,

nestled in that thin film of want/of milky light, to be born again
naked, to have to repaint my belly. I need/ for such a parallel world to exist.

One where I am free to forget
the once [ ] songs/ that bind me here in time; the monogamous world
fixing a dried me in the mud/I came from & placing its lips to my forehead, singing:


[I [ ] you. Please overcome/your hunger.] I’m afraid I’m unsure why
I pray for these things. Need? No./I have no answers that I wish to share at length.

I want to be with you. There are no/words to be said beyond this. I long to have
a ritual in the night— weighed down by want/ so clumsily loose it’ll fly to the stars

& drip down onto my belly now Dark/ & open. I’ll overcome/your nightly prayers of
desire & hunger & [ ] & whisper low with only the words that need/ to be lost
in the wet of the mud—

Come watch them bubble onto my Dark belly/There must be
a song/ like this, begging to tempt unquestionably. I’ve come to believe

there’s a song/ behind each & every word between [ ], even those of us resigned to silence. In fact,
I know this. There’s no/more need to sing [I am sorry/I’m sorry.] I’ll overcome

my body of mud/ & do as need desires. That world I’ve conjured in want,/ its mud
my parallel wantless self— we will paint the spaces I cannot reach but need/to. My loneliness

that world truly parallel— the land that has been overcome/ by my blood rain & its rivers,
that land without mud, that land paved with shards of glass— too many

to overcome/in the land painted by the moon, my lonely self is cut
& cut to no song/ & is heard begging to be cut again. I want to be here & timeless.


A rope dangles from the moon by some need/that I do not understand & must not be my own.
We’re tethered. It’s all that’s known. I’m tethered here by no/one & my parallel selves—

I am not to be caught in any muddied rope that is not my own. I want/ the rope to be anything but
my loneliness. I want it to need to be cut, so that I may [ ] my binding.

I need to want the mud,/so that I may [ ] the binding with my Dark & painted belly,
its mud & reflections. Only then, will I overcome / only then,

there will be no prayer [I am sorry/I am sorry],
but only a world of timeless songs for my parallel selves:

[I’m sorry/I’m sorry, but aren’t you the moon/ so lonely?]




Marlin Figgins

Marlin Figgins is a Midwesterner, writer, mathematician, and college student at the University of Chicago. Marlin’s work has appeared in the Shallow Ends, Cotton Xenomorph, Glass: A Journal of Poetry and other publications.

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