A Journal of Contemporary Arts 


Two poems*




Let each throat vowel rise
From the orange-robed monks.
Let the Baptists Alleluia
Before being dunked.
Let the shofars blow and church bells ring in harmony
When my baby comes, when she comes with me.

Let each crypt and coffin
Prematurely open,
Let every heart’s
Seventh seal be broken.
Let the Shakers shake rapturously
As my baby shakes when she comes with me.

Let the desert armies
Kneel and pray
And surrender their ranks
In disarray,
As Rabbis and Imams laugh deep belly-ly.
Let the waters part like they did B.C.

Let angels beat their wings
Against the glass
And the pilgrim
Drop his bloody lash.
Let the minarets whisper “Amen” on the hour
When my baby comes with me in our bower.

Let the prophets prance
Around our bed.
Let Ganesh and the Buddha
Lead and be led
Between all our births and all our deaths,
When my baby comes, when she comes with me.



       for Natasha

Each family evolves its own religion,
As I am my father’s only born son,
And my mother a ghost these thirty years
Who, before her body became a word,

Made her life our home, its heart her kitchen,
And each meal a foretaste of the Kingdom Come.
What truths were clear then have all been but smeared
Like the fallen body of the baby bird

As it hopped in the street, was crushed by a car.
As someday I’ll cremate my father’s smile,
And kiss my daughter a final goodnight,
All parents become their own sacrifice,

Opening new wounds, uncovering old scars.
My father opened, then closed the drawers of his files,
Balanced his ledgers beneath a dim light.
My mother poured tea. Small blessings sufficed.

Tonight I confess that I cannot remember
Her voice or her words. We mourned for three days,
Then buried her deep in a sun-showered grave,
Shared her last cake’s sliver and sacrament of crumbs.

As my daughter sleeps, these words come dismembered.
When I piece them together, the dead might be raised.
But nothing that lives will ever be saved,
Nor the moments I believe we all are one.




   * from Final Terms (revised edition) 2018 Pivot Press