Did I mention I used to write poetry?
See where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament
Bright curtains for a boy to slide down,
Great masts to support the world where it has grown a little antique.
The father is out of his mind,
And has been thus since the cannons and the thunder,
Since Herod returned and set up shop on the communion tray.
He believes he has the viridian wings of a parrot
And flaps his arms in thick brown sleeves
And cries out a scarified song.
Perhaps it is insanity;
Perhaps it is only putting on a different pair of spectacles,
To see the world anew.
Hurricanes come, hurricanes go
But the wind always there;
It blows bagpipe songs through the skulls of popes
And stand-up comedians.
The wind kisses your lips and makes them cold,
Makes them gray and thick,
Makes them part of the ground that the wind carves
Like a butcher with the carcass of the bull.
It blows on the walls of northern warehouses
Where kids shake and move to music pumping
Thick and bright as blood through a heart.
The father knows nothing of warehouses,
Nothing of electro beats or stimulations.
The father knows only that the
Thick adobe walls of the mission
Have transformed into the gilded sticks
Of a birdcage
And the rushes of the floor into
Newspaper, announcing that the
Great business has begun.
There are no angels left in America anymore,
Says the song on the college radio station
As I pass the steps to the market
And the lovely girl with the black glasses
And the Prada suit.
She smiles at me—
I could ascertain a world of meaning in that slight
Twitching of facial muscle,
But why bother?
The universe is a stretched thread made up
Of quantum possibilities;
I reminded her of her older brother,
Or her co-worker,
Or she has mistaken me for someone else.
She comes from the kingdom of small towns
Where everyone smiles at everyone else.
She wants to wrap her legs around me
And do exciting things to me with her mouth.
She has an habitual involuntary muscle spasm
That only looks like a smile.
She is my unknown sister.
All of these things are true,
And none of them.
The sweet sweat of the Pacific Ocean
Mists against my skin and coat;
As I watch her pass along towards Pioneer Square.
I died hung from a tree once.
I don’t know where, or when—
Helena, Montana, after a lifetime of stealing horses
Or Padua at the end of a heretic’s uprising
Or Szechuan in the beginning of a peasant’s revolt;
Or Midgard, before the world was made.
I’ve tasted bitter coffee and bitter defeat,
I’ve tasted your mouth and the barrel of a gun.
I’ve touched Christ’s robe as he stumble through the streets of Los Angeles
Or maybe it was Jerusalem—they look so much alike.
I’ve seen Fra Angelico lift the skirts of a courtesan
As he painted the Virgin Mary;
Seen the world described in projected light
At twenty-four frames a second,
Felt the wind blow through my hair and through my bones
And the rippling feathers of a viridian-green parrot
In the wet heat of the Third World.
I’ve smelled coal-smoke and flamboyant trees
And mangos and the faint perfume of a pretty girl
With black glasses and a Prada suit
Moving along a sidewalk on the rain coast of the Northwest,
On her way to resignations and assignations
That don’t have a single goddamned thing
To do with me.