Childlike in white gauze bandages bent
around my head, my hands,
under the bell of full metal clasps
tucked in like twelve discipled verses-
I am a snail that walks a black line along the
holy house, in search of water wound
like a ball of rain, thirsting for an
existence; a priest condemns me with his
rosary cross, his hoisted bible- who in
this labyrinth of hymns can save me.
Who killed my life with a blunt scythe?
Time shall not murder you, he said; who
could hack out my heart- am I unborn
and undead? I felt as though time had
murdered me. Before it knocked out my
flesh, my liquid hands tapped on the womb;
my male figure fathered me like a worm-
I was deaf to spring and summer; I did not
know the moon and sun by name; my
flesh’s armor was pounded by a rainy
hammer wielded by clouds; sleep and
dreams were racks to my lily skin.
I bow down at the altar of trees in search
of new flesh and bone, where water
and earth make a mixture, a cocoon of
skin and vein till the blood runs. My heart
knows love. I drift down to the sea to
touch the shore, the tumbling waves.
I am richer by sipping on the vine of life,
christened with the milk of earth and sky,
the lifting hands of the four winds; singing
of the heavens in the synagogue of clouds.
The dust which is God
A holy stream where the Jesus fish ran
clear and cold
and the sabbath bell rang slowly
and the hymnal folks sang loudly
and the collection plates filled poorly
while the sermon was of Adam
in the newly made earth
below the dingle sky starry.
All church goers had a natural piety to feel:
a creed written in
chapter and verse;
all crouched bare waiting for a baptismal
and a mother figure waited in the shadows
and a new church steeple endowed
and the midwives of miracles spoke of
a name- God.
Her dust, thin as sparrows bones,
writhes down like thorns
over the Holy Ghost
over the spuming cyclone of the
black silence melt
over the black plumed reaper,
down the dumbfounded stream to the
Dead Sea- burial waves for
the holy fish.
Brethren for joy, in the name of the mother
pray with the innermost marrow of
your heart bone,
rejoice on the Noah mountain
kneel before a burning bush
and the cross of his wounds;
I am wholly to that lamenting.
Sing a hymnal to sinners whose tongues
I tolled. That bores for all mankind.
The shape of the journey
His pious eye was staring beneath the
hair of clouds. When I took off
my clothes for internment, there
was only one shoe left for the dance,
the pinch of where.
Mother Mary me out of here.
Time for the flat-headed St. Peter man;
I recognize that listener.
Him with his sanctitude and bent knees:
a varicose horror.
I have come on the church bus with the
holy water dispenser and paper cups;
windows down, wind and rain
like a spray of buckshot. The driver is
the last watcher outdoors,
Moving the card players closer. The sun
eases itself beneath the horizon; the
night collapses into the sky. We all depart.
Our muscles move like jittery water
into the gully of heaven, dank as a ditch.
Up the roadbed Roman stone we strain,
past the bibles in mildewed crates;
we keep breathing a small breath.
A hellhound is sniffing for sinners; an
ill wind sharpens itself on a whetstone.
Hello, hello, says St. Peter, I am the
assistant keeper of the mollusks- let
me see the pits of your tongues, just
a formality. You cannot enter until
his holiness turns on the green light.
We slipped into the silver city, stretched
over sand grain fields, the sun glinted
its sides; we crept cautiously, trying to
shake loose eyes peering. Oh, don’t
mind them, said St. Peter, they’re
Purists- watch out for their beacon swing,
it travels like a snake on a slippery plank. We
slept all night despite the core and pith of
that ugly worm. Come morn, his worship’s words
comforted. The bus departed with a lewd whisper.
The smoke of its breath hung on like the
dearly departed; its right rear fender scraped
by a bolt of lightning- a warning from Jehovah.
God bless good old heavenly terra firma, I quipped.
He said, lovely; learn by going where to go, my son.