St. Augustine never graced my dreams

The writer, says the poet,
must only write
what must not be written.

Such are the quests
we pursue, Sancho-Panza-less,
weak despite our dreams

secret cowards pretending
to be secret heroes.
Who remembers, now,

all those wasted hours
dreaming springtimes
that never came, never left?

Who would want to repeat
such nonsense, who would
listen anyway?

Thousands of lives ago
they, too, believed to the core
of their death-bound souls,

incarnate but powerless,
amused but mirthless
amid those others

who seemed unshackled
but bore also
the scars of sentience.

Whole stories narrated
themselves, so complete
and unpierceable

that if they were not true
then nothing was.
And now, we’ve worn away

the so-convincing patina,
exposed the tin beneath
the blinding shine.

Into the teeth of it, then!
No use making a penance
of it. Allez-op!

Who writes poems, anyway,
but poets? Who reads them
but you?

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.’

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.

Faith

Overheard: “Religion is fashionable these days.”

I’m going Hassidic, man,
Black hat, long curls
Slip-sliding down my ears,
Prayer thing, all fringy,
Hanging out my waistcoat

Or maybe Mormon,
White shirt, black tie
In the high summer heat
Bike oil staining my cuffs

If that don’t work,
I might go Amish
Dress like I just busted
A long term sentence
Begun in 1850,
Drag my plow horse to work
Every God-given day

Or Catholic?
They got nothing except
For priests, and I’m no priest
Got no taste for boys
Got up in cassocks

Nor desert stuff for me
Got no taste for heads
Wrapped or unwrapped
Attached or unattached

I’d consider voodoo
But my juju
Is lame and those
Blazing beads radiate
Way too much heat

Or, on second thought, no.
I got no style for this kind of stuff

Psalm

The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want

I shall not want for tribulation
For the flock is scattered
Their bleating goes unheard
Wolves nibble at the corners
With no fear of hindrance
I shall not want for tribulation
For the armies of God surround me
They have raised up the banners
Of loathing in every direction
And lo the sheep crawl
In slavish obeisance
I shall not want for tribulation
Even the dogs have abandoned us
As the shepherd sleeps off His cosmic binge
I shall walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Eyes closed
Fingers in my ears