Agony in the Garden

                              ∙ ∙ ∙

We met on some overlooked saint’s forgotten
     solemnity, an agonizing martyr
     some century deposited into our
     memories when we were schoolchildren, beaten
     to believe in something twisted corpses more

     fervently offered us than envious men,
     liars aroused after devouring our sins,
     eating their second comings off first-year flesh,
     eyes feasting, ears leaning, on trembling sorrows,
     guilt performed like silent poems in thrashes

     of unconscious movements, in those loud moments
     we knew each other, struck not down by god’s hand,
     but dumb, tongues dried like biblical rivers, mouths
     plagued by cotton, white clouds filling them after
     our fathers tore off their tight briefs, white cotton

     winding sheets relieving thickening, thicker,
     then thickest dicks of their Lazarean sleep,
     coming up Vesuvian, blowing inward
     steaming seas that, to this day, make our hearts burst
     at their insecurely sutured seams, broken

     on trust greasy priests came yielding, haunting us
     in sweaty dreams no team of experts, with their
     manufactured empathy, can erase or
     cleanse or exorcise, especially not since
     miracles are beyond their experience.

                              – – –

Infinities of weeping statues walk through
     a city’s historic garden district, one
     where shame will lift her sobering skirts before
     making off with a paradigm your aching
     stones of revel-weary feet cannot run from,

     on these streets, beyond those municipally
     manicured lawns, public parks where, after dark,
     fiends and company men depart, seeking more
     than comfort, even devils dare not trouble
     dusk for its cover, here we will march tonight,

     paths aligning before shadows take their flight,
     if only to mark our martyrdom, to mock
     our heavenly birthday with a feast that is
     anything but, one in which our pain tastes us,
     and we think of wanting, our unrepentant

     longing for each other still strong, long after
     those bruises have gone, this unity of one
     sin made manifest in three situations,
     our greatest need unmet, to be transfigured
     in the face of the world’s judgment, love’s summit

     just beyond sunset, but as I wander here
     among brothel lights throwing off petals, flesh
     coloured spiritual by sparks that flower
     bouquets of back-room saints, laying hands on wastes
     of bones in backyards broken like promises,

                              ∙ ∙ ∙

I realize your wounds are the puddles my
     toes ripple through like pebbles, nets, or demons
     men cast out before dawn, blood and water drawn
     to one place, the armpit of a courtesan
     who, in this alleyway, we pass, not knowing

     she is that nun, our teacher, who made us reach
     under her habit, (s)he is our saviour, that
     Tiresian trademark hanging from olive
     wood, calling up & down to both demographics,
     begging men and women to forgive him, he

     knew not what (s)he did, selling us on this shit,
     taking our sins, exchanging them for his guilt,
     and as I realize this, that we never
     escaped it, I stand against a wall and wait,
     nailed by what your absence makes me think back to,

     that day we skipped mass to pack for our escape,
     and when I went into your room, you were not
     there, and how when I was caught, our fathers made
     us stay over the holidays, over our
     break, to be broken in properly, taking

     virginity as a penalty, and I
     think back to how you wept as that nun let them,
     bent us over her knee so that those priests could
     each take a turn, deflowering what beauty
     remained, against its will, staining these stone walls.