The Drowning in Babel Blues

               To Anyone
                    who’s ever gone down
                    in Babylon—

                                   And knelt by those waters
                                        as they wept.

Saint Peter’s knocking on my door
     long after dark, a long way down,
     at the bottom of a barrel,
     damned, run out of his part of town,
     at the foot of my well, hell on
     his heels, asking if I’ll heal what
     heaven can’t, that part of a man
     my hands harden, that tower I
     climb so well that no woman would,
     and I’m so good, so good at what
     I’m told I shouldn’t be, but am,
     so good being better than them.

Ain’t it sweeter, better that way,
     when another hand reaches down
     to help you as you prey, pants ’round
     hallowed ground as a stranger lays
     his on your intention, Onan’s
     sin inherited, no more time
     to waste, racing thoughts pulsing their
     impurity the great white way,
     faces lit as this stage of life
     takes itself so low to reach an
     old height, its ancient violence
     shaking blinding faith into place.

We don’t need her, no, she can’t come,
     not to where our tongues go, useless
     muses are like canned music, spoiled,
     spoiling these occasions, not on
     evenings such as these when those of
     this persuasion should be preying,
     and we’re already late, so let’s
     throw off their chains as we lick it,
     drowning prayer-bones deep in words our
     haughty mouths spit, moisten your lips,
     we’ll put them together then blow
     like wind heaven down with great head.