Prayer Before an Ossuary

Any act performed with intention becomes a rite.


This is the box in which the stars
were kept before placed on the mantle of
heaven, corruscated brilliance, wilderness calculating its own desolation,
the distance of a wish from its fulfillment
or not, down to a second of arc,
where they were we now are, sparks that
can fly only so far, falling from meaning’s
higher degrees into our place of sighing, breath

of lightning a whirlwind whose purpose is to
bring pressure to what has no other substance,
to question it, ætherized and impatient, a caravan
of misfit men dodging bullets as we make
our pilgrimage in an unholy land, wanted dead
and making a break for it in our
hejira from its peasants we offended in mocking
Onanism as the source of quintessence, into this

temple’s inner sanctum we have come seeking priests,
hedonists weary from demonizing them, memories of better
men walk my hands with slippery feet like
pomegranate seeds eating my flesh the way a
sarcophagus does, not knowing the worth of what
wealth it holds, writing oblivion into cursive palmistry
only the faintest pain of which I can
yet comprehend, time is a river you cannot

outrun, not even with the speed your fear
gives you, this one is an unclean spirit,
of which Jesus, before being nailed by his
Passion, said, ‘This kind can come out only
through prayer and fasting,’2 and so before them
I cast my bones, offering a scattering of
famished scraps on which I scratch these poems
to disabuse of their doubt those wise men,

Alecks and Thomases, tricksters and firebrands whose wits
still flicker, discarded jugglers and magicians toward whom
I shuffle, barefoot and windworn, lovelorn and barren
as a hermit, before you I kneel, mourning
your martyrdom, imploring your return to form, you
remnant fiats constellating tranquil and anxiolytic, riding out
into fistfuls of night after surviving life’s riot,
bedridden whetstones against which the world-sword dulls, titrating


from its head-splitting migraine of indifference into the
mystic appreciation of this nut’s bombshell, the collateral
significance of this heretic apostle’s apocryphal epistle, awash
in the invective tittle of this ambush I
scribble, my miserable little petition mimicking fire, a
river you cannot keep up with, licking ambitious
in the asking, hubris taking into my anguished
whispers the gift of your inability to answer

directly, O Brothers I have loved like Fathers,
what sins we have committed to be wanted,
fugitive in our wandering, unwitting prophets unwelcome in
our own provinces, disenchanted messengers following the sky
to arrive uninvited at every one of the
seven disingenuous churches of Asia, flirting with danger
to keep trying and be denied entry as
we darkened their doorsteps centuries later at Ephesus,

Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, writing
in the open books of our hearts what
signified the closure of their minds, the boulders
of their Sisyphean eyes lowering under the cumbersome
weight of anciently furrowed brows which never once
troubled the scowl of closed mouths to suffer
ever having sounded a word on which we
could count, that we were as unwanted there

and then as I want here and now
to have you give what none of us
could accept, love and shelter in your wings
from the things I sought once, when I
was young, pleasure’s ephemeral touch kindled to a
loss of innocence less easily forgot than its
cost, the embrace of thieves who were partners
only in the sense of poor company, whose

business it was to undervalue me, and so
I seek the succor of dust, the comfort
of elders and ancestors whose experience I did
not trust would repeat itself by becoming my
own, seduced like an apostate to what rusts
a soul and keeps it from finding its
mate with whom to pray and grow old,
hold me in the consolation of your philosophy.

1Dion Fortune, “[Chapter] 17. Methods of Defence: Part I” in “Part IV: Methods of Defence Against Psychic Attack” of Psychic Self-Defense: New Edition, published at San Francisco, CA by Weiser Books in 2001; page 184.
2“The Gospel According to Mark”, [Chapter] 9[, Verse] 29, in “The New Covenant Commonly Called the New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: New Revised Standard Version” of The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, published at New York by Oxford University Press in 1989; page 46.