Justin Aoba

Desire at the End of the World

Finally, it ends. In empty space, bodies collide, heat without the production of form, just release. I feel so greedy you say, as your hand creeps down your thigh, but greed is want constrained by extraction—here, awash in the orange of what could have been, there is nothing left. How desire makes scarce the flesh we find inescapable. Deeper, then, into pulsing membrane and nerves entangling violence into pleasure, our slick guts held in by the dim pressure of distant constellations. A debris cloud stalks the horizon, sweeping decades of spent casings across polished floors; an exhausted animal rests its head on scorched earth, texts loved ones I hope you made it out all right; everything eventually looks the same, you on your knees, begging for the rhythm of catastrophe. There is no beginning again. Better to plant your hands in scabbed soil, our well-watered roots recalling the forest, not the axe. There is only our warmth—soon, indiscernible beneath the sun.

the end unfurling
your throes steadied by my hands
scars fade from our palms


Justin Aoba is a writer and editor based in NYC. His work appears in the Oakland Review, Black Stone / White Stone, Five South, Chicago Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He is Deputy Poetry Editor at Identity Theory and a member of Heung Coalition, where he helps organize a weekly writing workshop.