Lazarus

And Martha said to Jesus,
‘So how long is this resurrection thing
good for?’
‘Hard to say,’ Jesus said.’
‘Why?’

Martha poured him
another glass of wine.

‘It’s just that he won’t stop
talking about it,
how he’s your favorite,
how you don’t raise just anyone
from the dead.’

Jesus drained his glass,
reached for the bottle.

‘I might be able to get him a job
in Cyprus.’

A sailor’s epitaph.

Rest, you say, in peace,
rust away in peace!
All I ever did was rest into pieces;
I’m dead of it.

I know, I know, too late,
the clock has struck
and my mortal wisp is doomed
to eternity, slowly descending
into elemental
entropic stupor.

But even Achilles, brave Achilles,
would rather have risen and returned
as chattel than rule over
those resting in peace.

I want trouble to get out of,
love to fall into, happen to stance,
luck to stroke, good or bad,
it’s all the same to me.

If I’m doomed to rest,
let it be fitful, at least, full of
desire unquenched, fortune
unclaimed.

All these trials, these wounds,
are closer to heaven
than moldering nothing
without light or darkness,

changeless.

True death is the
timeless, the changeless,
the big zero.

The plague

Survivors of the plague, finding themselves neither destroyed nor improved, could discover no divine purpose in the pain they had suffered. ~ Barbara Tuchman

Everything falls, the old banners
Flung to pieces,
God reveals himself a jester,
Indifferent or cruel,

It makes little difference.
Popes and paupers rot
In the same slag heap,
All the rules, shattered.

Such a holy tantrum!
Such abandonment
Not seen since the days
Of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Do you pray, beseeching
God for pity,
If justice cannot be found?
Take care you don’t disturb his temper!

No pretense any longer
Of value, of one thing
Over another, your doom
Is made by a foul divine whim.