From "Elegy in X Parts"

Matt Rasmussen


The self-murder mystery
begins like this:

We are more likely
to kill ourselves

than be killed
by someone else.

I am the pistol
saying I will only

say this once.
Do not open

the tiny door
in the back

of your head.
All alone when

all alone, we
are asleep

inside our
murderer. There’s

a metal word
in the chamber

of my mouth
and my eyes

are bored out.
I’m a noose

using the body
against itself.

I see
what’s too awful

to be true—
that house

with one lit window,
my brother’s

punctured skull
yet is.


Your hands were delivered with the mail like postcards. There was nothing written on them, but I knew they had come from somewhere far away, because all the fingernails were painted

like stamps. I looked at the backs of your hands as if they were landscapes and tried to enjoy the sunset of your skin and riverbed veins, but could only wonder why we don’t have a word

for the backs of our hands. I think I put them in a drawer somewhere. Then they appeared in our glove basket, so I put them on. I punched one hand into the other, staring into

the foyer mirror. I was in a movie about to beat someone up real bad, but I didn’t actually have to, it was just a movie. My face looked incredible in the mirror, and I said, Inside

all our hands are smaller, more evil ones, even though you aren’t supposed to say anything true in a movie.


Kafka said, A book
must be an axe

for the frozen sea
inside us, which sounds

great, but what good
is an axe against

a frozen sea?
Perhaps this is why

he said, while dying,
Destroy everything.

There is little comfort
in knowing there

are worse undertakings
than killing yourself.

Is it dangerous
to say these things?

I don’t think so.
Or I do. Either way,

don’t believe me.
There is no refuge

from yourself.