From here you can see
a church and someone
bombing a church. Someone
painting a crucifixion, someone
tearing apart a cross. Someone
adoring a randy goat, someone
laying their firstborn on an altar,
and everyone is certain they’re right
and everyone’s missing how each of them
depends on the other to be well and healthy
and strong if they’re going to survive.
Jesus and Lucifer talked this out eons ago —
family matters, after all. They understand
that however often or much you reverse
you’re still on brand either way.
the Goat and the Lamb
watch their backs.
They’re gonna make it
until they starve,
and neither of us
are likely to survive that.
They pass their time in museums,
laughing at Durer, Dali, and Velasquez,
at all the ravening demons, at all the lascivious
nudes, at all the gaunt faces of saints.
These humans, they say.
Always so obvious. So blind
to the anguish and depravity
held in the petals of flowers, the holiness
of earthworms drowned in puddles.
Nothing else is straight and balanced.
Why do they think Good and Evil are,
and why do they paint such crude work
to argue their points when life
does not differentiate?
Suet cakes hang in cages outside the living room windows.
The cats hang out on their perches to see
what will take the bait.
The regulars come right on time: sparrows
in bunches and clusters chased away en masse by
blue jays and bully starlings
who then fuss each other off and on again;
later, the pair of woodpeckers, male and
female, each upon their own feeder,
and always nuthatches on the ground
taking the seeds dropped
from all that racket above.
When the squirrel comes and dangles upside down
from the cage, dragging out
bits and pieces of fat and corn,
I get up and bang on the glass to no avail.
The cats watch all this without apparent emotion;
I call it Cat TV.
Later I hit the couch and turn on Tony TV
with the evening news of famine and feast,
of crumbs falling from the racket above,
where the bullies take and take
with little care for the noise from those
who seek to drive them off.
I like birds better. At least when they’re satisfied
they fly away. I like squirrels better.
They get what they need and go.
I dig cats the most. They get bored
with the struggle and find better
things to do somewhere else
while I sit here going mad watching the world go mad
for fat and scraps, and though I know
I could do more, I don’t, and I can’t look away.
No one has ever described me as gentle and sweet
but there was a moment when I think
I could have gone that way.
I think it happened
that summer between
junior and senior high.
I don’t recall the circumstances
of my pivotal moment, or why
I instead went coarse and cold in seconds.
I just know that I started that next year
ripped up inside and as I scarred
Neither compassion nor sweetness
lasted long in me. I was a child, then
I became machinery
and chewed at the world and ripped it
as I had been ripped. I tore through
my lifetime like a paper shredder.
I kept the scraps. I can puzzle
them together to try and find a meaning
that was clear once and now is
damaged and obscure, or
I can toss them up in the air
and say it’s a victory celebration
for my triumph over the past but either way
I’m lying. There is a hole
in my own definition and I fill it with lies
because I don’t want to know
how I got this numb and careless.
There was summer full of sun
and swimming and being
young the right way,
and then there was fall
and I became a darker kind
of young which has led me to
this dim age. You describe me
however you want. Once
I could have been called
gentle and sweet.
What I am called now
is whatever was left to me after
that forgotten crossroad.