Letters, he said,
are all right-angles
for simple acquisition.
Put your words on the shelf
at night, unpack only
what you need. Stop
for altars. My dear,
your pencil’s not a paintbrush.
The consequence of sound
ends at the softest
Why do you need a word
for homeless planets,
the heritage of solitary stars?
Why do you assign
meaning to the gasp
of wonder when you look
out the window and see
home, a cityscape,
an ancient horizon
you can trace with your index?
A miracle doesn’t need
a legacy, I said,
but how can you live that way?
When you lay beside
the river’s midnight lurk,
swans asleep in hidden
nests and yellow ragweed
in your hair, look up-
watch waves of savage wings
and wind roaring over
your head. Believe this
is why ancient Greeks
fashioned myths and heroes
from our galaxy’s rollicking war-cry.
Lean with your whole
body towards the churning
hour and consecrate
rugged euphony with your own
surprised shout, pure
and ephemeral adoration.
All of this and heaven too.
Bless the man who christened
each wisp of earth-hewn pulchritude
the hands that consecrated
these ephemeral gifts,
sonic revelations carved into stone.
I never liked going to church alone.
Something about the crucifix, its wooden agony
and sophic stare
right into my vacuity of virtue, the numinous crescendo
of the fervent choir, made me reach for my mother’s hand
childlike faith in her sturdy side. Broken inclinations
and fragmented rectitude,
I’m not suited to the white gowns and silver circlets.
I’m a scarlet stain, like a drop of wine
on the divine imbrication of angels and immolation.
So lately I’ve made altars of bookshelves,
pews of the equidistant aisles lain like slants
of sunlight on the ground. Disciples of transliteration,
harrowed breath of fallen prophets, on my knees
to the lowest shelf. I have found saviors here.
Walk through and my toes curl under, so
shy in the lush wandering of words and promises
intimated between the lines.
I could kiss their trillion pages like a lover’s eyelashes
embrace forever their bloodless
offerings that stir my thrumming heart
and assure me that in this wild tangle of
mainline veins and interstate road signs,
skittish eyes and unfathomed dreams,
they have walked before me.
I am not alone.
Lock our hopes
in profane reliquaries
with precious overlays
of velvet and veneration
an offering past its time.
a meaningful end
in an infinitesimal terminus,
and prodigal whores
go to otherworldly sleep
and wine-stained songs
while skyward mysteries
of existential reign.
if we close our eyes
we can ignore the divine
vacancy under the golden lid
and call it holy prayer.
Dimming the speed of light
till it shivers, one treacherous step
at a time in the darkness
little toes straining
to feel out the black-mouthed holes
before they swallow:
the prodigal’s dawn comes slowly.
There is no map for God-drawn heart-lines.
Is it faith if you’re still trying
to make shapes out of midnight?
The blind man didn’t forfeit color
in the name of contented trust.
Is it faith if it’s thrust upon you?
I would ask, but my words are a shot in the dark.
The little worlds of a billion minds
whirl in neurotic orbit
crash in elliptical roads
and in this grand humane cacophony
I barely hear you say
Just be still.
I need to dance in white-hot tails
of streaking flame
I need to sprint through the cosmic labyrinth
and find you.
The speed of light can only take me so fast
but I’ve decided anything is better
than the utter stillness of dark.
Velvet shade that shrouds
the fledging bud of spring
coats it in gentle solitude
and wraps it in opaline garb
Come, into this house, my son
and warm this fragile pulchritude
for the pinched freeze has left its scar
But the balm of your caress