Michael Turle


I have traipsed in robes of jade through

azure gardens — round the spines of

ancient lovers, muses’ children who

breathe with eyes I cannot know.


I can but imagine how bright their fires, the warmths they held inside their hearts

and how the love must have consumed them, an inferno of yearning, paradisio of

trust and tongues and hands and understanding—THAT is what love must be.


Paradise seems to have locks, and keys and there is snow on the

ground and icicles on the gates, and sometimes if I get close enough,

I feel the flamelash on my skin, feel all the pain of being burned

without the joy of being fuel, of burning with a purpose in mind.


In azure gardens in robes of jade amidst the

dead who have known love and breathe its

flames up through their bones

I sit and shiver once in solace, in soulless, in soma, in solitude.


And I wonder if I’ve missed something, some class I

skipped taught in the womb just before we all move

on to bigger and colder things:


“This is how to love someone,” the

amniotic fluid writes in chalk upon the

uterine wall and everyone else took

notes; “This is how to lose yourself in

passions and kisses and twirling of hair

and this is how to get all that instead of

eulogizing love at 1 AM in your notes



I have traipsed in robes of jade through

lovers’ gardens of poesy and read their

breaths, their gasps for air in the Elysian

inferno that love seems to be. And I

have stood in soft snow drifts pissing

over borrowed boots and I have never

felt that way and I do not know if I

will—and I redo my fly and I stare at the

snow, and I scream softly unto it, “there

must be more than this!”


and the snow gives no answer

and I go back inside.


And I think that I am fireproof,

immune to love’s incineration,

scorched and scalded by its heat but

never turned to ash; and I have seen

the paper people burn away in

ecstasy, and I have longed to join

with them, to have a heart of

gasoline and be my own love’s

effigy— to burn with them myself.


I must be the bastard son of some frail

phoenix, of some dragon stoned: I’ve

asbestos wings but a matchbox heart that

cannot burn, that will not burn no matter how

fiery it ought to— salamandrine feathers,

adamantine bones in a world of pitch and

napalm, in a world of fire and love.


I have traipsed in robes of jade through

azure gardens ablaze with truth. My

heart longs to incinerate—my soul

remains yet fireproof.


Michael Turle is an English major at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He was the 2020 recipient of the Arthur E. DuBois Award for Excellence in Literary Criticism and works as an editor at KSU’s Literature and Arts Magazine, Luna Negra. He plays trumpet in the athletic bands and serves as the media director of Sigma Tau Delta, Xi Mu chapter.