God-sized ache & Long weekend
[ poetry - september 08 ]
In the movies a worldly man
returns to his hometown church and leads
the congregation in a hymn, something
about nearness, with plenty of Christ
in the chorus. The second he stands up,
his whole body clicks to a glow, his
eyes lifted to the ceiling like tiny
escalators linking earthliness to
God. Prodigal or not, he's rapt
in the spirit, a blush of sin
ebbing into pale emptiness.
Rehearsal for rapture -
the waxed gleam of the pews rising
like hosts of newly awakened dead.
Is it really that easy to
start over? If God were an old girlfriend,
she'd take you back in an instant,
familiar fingers gripping your face,
that three word stare. You'd fumble your
overpacked bags of guilt, lust and rage,
dropping them on her toes, but she’d
forgive you, now that you were finally
broken too. She'd quickly take you
to her bed and darling you dreamy,
give you the strength to cry until
you were drained enough not to stray
again. God wants you with a God-sized
ache, to which nothing else compares.
And so you
take your emptiness
to the movies and end up lonely
for some former self, the one who
was faithful because it felt better
than all those doubts. Take yourself home,
a balloon cut from its string. This would be
the perfect time for church, a levitation.
You wonder whether suicide
is simply the inability
to remain in one safe place. Of course
you think too much, that's major, even
down on your knees with pieces of
Christ in your mouth. You're a worse mumbler
than Brando, completely indecipherable.
In real life men like you go to church
looking for versions of themselves: someone
hiding behind a hymnal, a shadow
spreading from the pulpit like a bloodstain,
a madman manufacturing false notes
in the choir. This other is who you
most need to believe in, a doppelganger,
a cracked mirror image of your greatest
all-time fears. When you lift your eyes
towards heaven, you're really checking out
the chandelier, yet another concealment.
I'm here, you whisper into your Bible
in case you’re the lost one in this
game of eternal hide-and-seek.
What did I do with the days?
Sprinkled them with talc, drank
to happier ways, wrote them
in my notebook for future spec.
I combed my hair, at least a dozen times,
especially when the rain
did its plastering gig,
and I puttered about the garden,
shooting weeds, whispering invocations
to the dirt, did all sorts of silly things,
from naming my new spruce Cedric
to gobbling too much Thai.
Ordinary days, slippages,
hardly holiday fare, this bit of winter
in May, stats showing the superiority
of times gone past. Then sleep,
don't let me forget the zzz's,
as many of them as good intentions.
I cleaned out my closet, unkinked
the cat, leaned into fate with what
I hoped was a flexible stance.
I yanked, I drove, I telephoned,
yet feeling incomplete. Were the hours
simply to be spent? Those infamous
shoulds, drilling their greys, piling
lesser with regrets. I should have
unravelled the brute truth, baffled
the chronic too, written a template
for the perfect poem. Should have spun
the days into sacrifice and myth, something
easily mistaken for accomplishment