There are thirty twisting staircases of bronze
And thirty curving staircases of silver
In the copper tower,
One for each of the dirty palms
You must read in the kindergarten, the asylum, or the ossuary,
And on each of these hands you
Will find three rings of peridot, jade, and malachite,
One for each thrumming hole waiting pliant in the tower door.
Once you climb each staircase
(you must walk them all simultaneously for the stairs to twine correctly),
You will meet sixty lovers, unknown,
And each will have the hidden name of a forbidden star.
If you guess their names correctly
They will disappear, bored and unimpressed,
But if you guess them incorrectly
You will begin arguing with them,
And if you lose that argument they will fuck you
On their sixty green beds,
Each a slightly different shade,
You will not leave if you love them,
And you will either give birth to sixty children,
Or you will sire them,
Or you will find them huddled along the stairways,
Your lost selves ground to pulp by the gears of the tower
And fed to your young.
You will never leave the tower,
But your children will come to rule
Some unburnt ashes of a new world.
Jacob Weil is a student of philosophy and literature at American University, and has been writing poetry seriously for around two years. You can find more of his work in the upcoming October issue of Cathexis Northwest Press.