AFTER VALENTINE’S DAY
“Pure and unlimited violence, however creative it was set on being, could never be safeguarded from potential blindness.”
-Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics
We speak of the human heart as if it contains not
the flagrant it’s-all-too-much, the cumulative understanding
of how our cruel monkey consciousness works, but instead
this persistent beating away of nose-bone wearing indigenous island people,
one of whom carries under his arm—built of stretched hope and long labored skill passed
from his father’s father’s father, inlaid with possibility of mastery of the body—a drum.
We speak of the heart like it catches only itself in itself, a sterilized repetition of only and not less than love—whatever that means, saccharine sacrament infinitely reducible to the translucency of Valentine candy in the shape of—that’s right, you nailed it—and we speak not as if it could thud itself into destruction for the sake of destruction or could capture the moment a man finds his way out from the burning of whatever new fire is in vogue this week in the Outback or California.
Do we need to talk about what this all means, how in service of following the whims of this organ so integral to our functioning we will burn anything everything as long as there’s something in our path? Because we can. You only have to ask.
Walking from the produce to the magazine section of my grocery store this evening
I found a cover that profiled koalas as if they were this issue’s newest model,
blown up to span the entire cover, the caption in large, font mentioned something
about how this unique species wouldn’t last if we didn’t step up to help it, but of course
not in so many words. Something flashier. It became hard, then, not to think of how
these cuddly big-nosed not-actually-bears have brains and hearts so disproportionate
in their functioning they ostensibly won’t recognize the leaves of eucalyptus, their
delicious poison, as food once these are undressed from their tree. All the more
worth it for saving, perhaps, as we humans are so very similar. The world undresses
itself of us little soul by little soul, through fire and everything else it can muster
and we barely acknowledge how it also stubbornly keeps us alive.
The heart wants
what the heart
wants what we
tell the heart
it wants even
as we listen
only to the beat
of our selves
TYLER ROBERT SHELDON is the author of five poetry collections including Driving Together (Meadowlark Books, 2018) and Consolation Prize (Finishing Line Press, 2018). He is Editor-in-Chief of MockingHeart Review, and his writing and artwork has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, The Tulane Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and other places. A Pushcart Prize nominee and recipient the Charles E. Walton Essay Award, he earned his MFA at McNeese State University. Sheldon is currently a PhD student in English at Louisiana State University. He lives in Baton Rouge. View his work at TylerRobertSheldon.com.