Beneath His Habit

Beneath his habit there was hidden
what, in his gospels, he preached against—
a body beset, disease-ridden,
for which he so shivered and coughed and winced.

Beneath his collar there grew like weeds
a cancer of the throat, so like libel,
and down below his rosary beads
his lungs were black as a brand new Bible.

While he spoke to save each lamb-like soul
in the rapt congregation of his church
there was an irreparable hole
in his heart—literal, which made it lurch.

And there were blood clots, each quite swollen,
in his arteries, clogging the relay,
and there were polyps in his colon,
lined like pews in a church, ripe with decay.

He read aloud tales from the good book
of his Lord, and how He might spite us,
his fingers trembling, stiff at each crook,
and thorn-ringed with a flaming arthritis.

His frail body was the tale of Job,
each youthful blessing stripped wholly away
until only faith filled up his robe,
forcing fickle flesh through another day.

Love became his words, and creed his sight,
while pain became his altar boys and choir;
as he spoke of faith, his lips were white
and he smelled of Death beneath his attire.

But he felt akin at last to Christ
as he hung tormented upon the cross,
knowing faith means being sacrificed
to prove one’s faith, through its gain and its loss.

Speaking of the paradise to come
he became so passionate and pious
as to feel faint, his arms and legs numb
while he toppled down upon the dais.

Thus he fell, and thus his flock mistook
his death as evidence of their god’s wrath,
averting their eyes, so as to look
for some other means—an easier path.

Two Poems

Dance Of Destruction
How many times have we twirled around,
Kali and Man, hand in hand
circling the worldwide burial ground
of this atomic wasteland?

Take just one among her many arms
and spin apace the countdown,
hastening to the shrieking alarms,
trammeling every town.

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
and the world a barren place—
hers is a radioactive lust
and we court her arms’ race.

How so lovely her necklace of skulls
and how seductive her hips
as we dance like island cannibals
and kiss her entrancing lips.

Ah ha! To taste the dust on her tongue
is to taste the Holocaust
and to be one of many among
the M.A.D. men—those ever Lost.

The Hammer, The Nails, The Wood
How fitting that a carpenter’s son
should die by tools of the trade,
all of the houses now undone
for an empire by conquest made.

When they hammered the three long nails
did he see the distant days
or hear the far-off church bells
summoning flocks to sing his praise?

Did he see the world overtaken
with his hard words so softly spoken—
when he proclaimed himself forsaken
was it in seeing the covenant broken?

No doubt he heard them sing such songs
in adoration of their beloved Christ
while committing unapologetic wrongs
to forge a blood-soaked zeitgeist.

Perhaps he heard, above the cheers
of the Romans who mocked his pain,
the war cries through the future years
of those of a self-righteous reign.

How like those planks of rigid wood
his flocks would become in time—
unbending, hard, holding as best they could
cross-purposes and poor pantomime.

So did he receive a vision of life
as he died a carpenter’s death;
did he see pain, hypocrisy, strife—
was that the doubt in his final breath?