The Gospel of Lazarus

                    There in the northern desert, where the grass
                    Was withered, and the horses, all but one,

                    Chapter 1

Your rough beast devours our child in the cradle
          fangs of light extinguishing lanterns
of shadows faint as flame hanging around spent
          candles, ash lingering around wax
circumambulating fallen temples faith
          abandoned without warning, wasting
no time waiting or mourning, your wings open
          pouring over her pestilent words
not worth recording, the ‘Talitha cumi—’2
          the pathos of which your lips blaspheme
when the sword of your tongue appends ‘Ephphatha!’3
           “Little girl, I say to you, arise—
be opened!” both of us knowing Saturn rings
          with echoes of Scripture misquoted
by sinners whose songs are confessions wrapped in
          good intentions, that wrong transcends myth
raising to heaven the names of men whose deeds
          cannot circumvent mention, whose crimes
cannot escape repetition around him
          whose sphere encompasses every

                    Chapter 2

ear, when, all year he for whom a century
          is a season, his courtiers near him
and spin like discs hot tracks of meteors whose
          falls and hits record for him the facts
charting the course and progress of souls whose role
          it is to find success, asteroids
dancing through constellations take some time to
          tighten the cinch of their Titanic
belts, knowing full well how turbulent the hell
          of its fallout is when he assigns
to demons their just punishment, god sending
          below his chokehold of jaggèd rock
to overthrow those whose lies have broken them
          off from alignment with his divine
justice, hubris mobilizing gangs of thugs
          whose cult of the Self convinces them
to cast judgment on everyone and in
          the shape of every image but
themselves, those kids profiting from corruption’s
          mouth, such as I was, and you still are

                    Chapter 3

one of those youth somehow immune to growing
          up, first fruits of a Plutonic love
never fair, an Adamic pandemic of
          bad apples bruising wounds into their
bios to flesh out what little truth life had
          supplied them, parents blinded by fire
misguiding past watchtowers mothers whose eyes’
          taking of the bait sealed for babes their
fate, daughters promised to Hades without say
          from the moment they were made, our own
escaping its gate only because of my
          penchant to say things before praying
had my gospel been blanketed in the weight
          of hesitation, had my yes to
the angel delayed action by way of my
          asking too many questions, any
chance of his intercession would have been blown
          raising for future generations
doubt, instead of hope, that this prejudice will
          vanish when, with uninhibited

                    Chapter 4

hand, the heart’s evangelists relent and set
          flesh to parchment again, until love
reattaches its mark, prophetic kisses
          lifting stigma, those same teachers whose
mentoring of time made it pain’s great healer
          bleaching the blush of Persephone
the freeing of expression what makes of men
          heroes worth remembering, those saints
abandoning weapons, arming their minds with
          quills, filling their quivers with pens, lips
laying, instead, reverent layers of breath
          on blank pages finally ready
to receive its gift, waking from its second
          death pleasure which for too long silent
hatred hid, depriving us both of children
          to inherit what led Lazarus
to get up out of his pit and help them fill
          in the grave lions had dug for him
[wandering the desert, ever since, with his
          father searching for ink, not water.]

                    Alternate Ending (Other Ancient Authorities
                                                            Substitute the Following Verses)

[the desert a father wandering in search
          of sons who thirst for his lost wisdom.]

1Conrad Aiken, “And in the Hanging Gardens”, [Stanza 3, Lines 49–51], in The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Robert Frost: Selected and with Commentary by Harold Bloom, published at New York by Harper Perennial in 2007; page 924.
2Mk 5:41, from The Navarre Bible: Saint Mark’s Gospel: in the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate with commentary by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, published at Dublin by Four Courts Press in 2009; page 79.
3Mk 7:34, ibid.; page 90.