The Rock

God 
or someone thought to be God

walked into a Southern town
and came upon a church.   Continue reading 

I Knelt Down On The Dirty Floor

for Hank
1.

They’d almost reached the border 
when suddenly the driver thought 
the asphalt had turned into gold. 
It hadn't, the driver had fallen 
asleep, and a rusted pickup 
running for freedom 
ran off the highway and 
into a ditch with the lives
of thirteen Mexican immigrants.

2.

Pale Rider is the 3-to-1 favorite,
but as we look over in the next gate—
Jesus, he’s madder than all of them
and the color of a goddamn firestorm—
we’re taking Roan Stallion for the upset,
if the woman doesn’t shoot him first.

3.

The woman I loved
walked down to the chapel
to kneel before the cross,
but by the time she got there
the cross was empty.
The body of Christ 
had rotted so badly
the altar boys had to get 
pliers and pull him off.

4.

We’re in hell drinking scotch,
and it tastes like kerosene, worse,
and the Old Goat behind the bar
is laughing “NO MORE CREDIT!”
But it beats the other place 
that was selling Kool-Aid
and calling it wine.

5.

The cops had to report
that the child didn’t look
before entering the crosswalk,
because the bystanders were afraid 
to admit the kid was pushed 
by a guardian angel.

6.

When the woman I loved
walked down to the chapel,
I let her go and didn’t follow her,
and she didn't stop
when I tried to tell her,
“It's just a dirty trick.”

7.

Hank, it’s just a dirty trick,
the pictures burned, the bottles
thrown, the Roman candle that 
burns alone on a frozen lake 
of time. And after she left,

I knelt down on the dirty floor
and wept into my shots of whiskey
for the immigrants, the kid,
stinking Jesus, that furious 
red horse and now you.
March 1994

Nietzsche Turned To The Night And Asked

What would you have me compared to, then? 
The scorpion that strayed too far under the sun 

and stung itself to death, or the sightless 
mole that kept digging circles in the same 

archaic dirt? And why should it matter, 
there’s nothing left; nothing

but a silence more perfect than music;
no blinding shafts of imaginary light,

and no Judgment waiting at the end of that light; 
there is no light. It was ever only this:

beyond existence, merely the mystery;
beyond the mystery, merely one's choice—

faith or doubt—and nothing else. 
Man is soiled only by the sin of his servility,    

bound only by the fear of his freedom;
the shackles of guilt, the gallows of shame,

Nature commanded to kneel at the cross,
flagellate itself and beg for forgiveness—

what are these if not the vulgar shadows
cast between the columns of Fear and Otherness?

I fought to overthrow this abject indemnity,
eradicate our irrational superstitions,

and focus the power and purpose of existence 
toward its rightful object: existence.

These are the only wars worthy of humanity.
But here is your unimpeachable corpse— 

and better that I sought the “unholy” truth
and found only poverty, madness and death,

than were I to have sat still, waiting to be found. 
Reason was never more frightening than this.
For Chance Vallon, May 1995

A Fireside Prayer

Bless the black mold growing unchecked across the bathroom 
       ceilings and the permanent stench of dog-pissed carpet. 
   Bless the duct tape webbing the windows, the insect carcasses

left in the sills, and bless the drapes condemned by moths,
       crucified on aluminum rods. Bless the sofa’s cigarette burns, 
   the unclean countertops crawling with ants, the breadcrumbs 

feeding the roaches underneath the toaster. Bless the photographs 
       of obedient frowns. Bless the dust on their beaten frames.
   Bless the bibles and other examples of bad fiction best ignored. 

Bless the blaring gospel hour and the telephone receiver left off the
       hook. Bless this celebration of shame. Bless this rapturous running sore 
   and its captured minds cowering inside. O bless their hearts. Amen.