In an Attitude of Prayer


A ringing in the ears accompanies, like a
shadow’s pall does a waiting grave, rebels wed
to the danger of calling on angels without
first even bothering to learn their sacred names
they profane, or renouncing any sympathy for the
devil whose dissenting lips wet every fingertip fretting
decadent licks of diminished fifths, sticking dissonance on
the set-list in place of praise, unstitching from
the stinging strings of their moral fibre liars
hymning chaos instead of obeying the constraint of
moderation’s chains, denying every wonderworker’s miraculous claims, immortal
infamy instead of human shame, defiance electrifying DNA
to flickering sparks of ichor, wagging tongues thrusting
filthy lyrics, degenerate sonnets, into the gaping sockets
of crystal-skulled false idols from whose hollow eyes,
no longer dignified, marbles roll like molten rocks,
a magma of unbearable heat, the scalding deceit
of an unfulfillable prophecy, avalanching onto polished floors
of temples from behind the barred doors of
which I have emerged, scarred by my own
sword forged from the bronze of shields I
used as mirrors, misguided and perplexed, disoriented, purged


of my occidental comforts into which I was
birthed, on the manufactured nectars and ambrosias of
which I naïvely gorged, freedom the worst, abandoned
by the privilege of my conquistadorial superiority complex,
custodian of wreckage, I am pierced, vomiting words
and sore, seeking in speech comfort my need
to be heard ignores, oxygen abhors my lungs
and hurts as, in my wandering immodesty, I
ascend any way but cautiously this Everest of
my discontent, seeking heaven in its ending, hoping
to be enveloped by the vacuum of infinite
space, an embrace all-encompassing and welcomed by us
who have been burned by the map of
others’ five-year plans, rudderless but not directionless, I
am the hermit trimming the wick of my
lantern with the sickle of Saturn, cutting down
the hanged man whose gallows marks the crossroads
from which I embarked on my journey, I
stand on the edge, at the precipice of
the chasm between foolishness and wisdom which spans
a hand’s-breadth, a cubit, or a millennium depending
on which prophet you ask, which oracle you


consult, or how well one can weather the
misunderstanding of another, a faithless lover, who will
never comprehend how this feels, to be a
flame in the æther, who won’t ever believe
in me, a thief whose redemption Prometheus steals,
a heretic disciple whose abusive hubris moved his
divine teacher to remove him from the only
true gospel, to adopt a redactionist stance and,
in an attitude of prayer, remodel history and
destiny, an instance of reactionary revisionism erasing from
the banned book of my heterodox life every
record of what I thought was progress, blacklisted
my becoming this in response to my wilderness,
having already stalked from the lows of the
bowels of Dante’s Inferno, on through the lungs
of the Purgatorio and beyond what I’d hoped
would be a troubled mind’s Paradiso, having long
ago given up all hope of catching up
with my elusive Beatrice, or a beatnik fellow
traveler, compatriot exile with a beard who would
do the trick in such a pinch and
serve as my ideal instead, I accept every


consequence with no guilt, give up my spirit
to an indifferent republic of letters whose dispersed
members won’t even read in its struggle a
universal sentiment commenting on our rejections’ collective Diaspora,
commending it in its attempt at meaning, doubting
the allegèd wealth of self-knowledge as I claw
my way out of introspection and altitude draws
an apotropaic equator of protection circling like a
poor man’s Orion’s Belt the waste of my
worst intentions, each one of them shining without
apology or regret, broadcasting the ostentatious fact that
they are not diamonds, not even rhinestones, but
asteroids of second chances I will never get,
attracting like lodestones knee-jerk criticisms and quick judgments
my audacity merits, brazen as a bullet shell
accusing a pistol of false advertising when it
aimed for the moon but only traveled as
far as the silhouette of my personal hell
I traded my halo for, a test I’m
still failing, every temptation nips at my heels,
with tropical heat eats my conscience like cancer,
as if my soul were a guest in


its own home and my flesh its dinner,
a line I’m crossing but I feel no
nearer, consumed by my own fire, crawling like
Lucifer just after the fall over shards of
bottles, belly of scars opening their parched mouths
to devour barbed wire, more torture before I
can pause a beat for a breaking heart
to be broken open, to go over in
my aching mind why it was Oscar Wilde,
while serving hard time on the inside, decided
to go on enduring misfortune after misfortune, referred
to suffering as “one very long moment,” conceding
to confide this lesson of his secret learning
to the whole wide world, writing it in
a love letter (the longest ever scribed) Lord
Alfred Douglas (its undeserving subject) never even had
the decency to glimpse before publishing it posthumously,
contemplation no longer nourishing my own hunger for
understanding, I am a victim of wanting to
be understood by everyone I don’t want to
be wanted by but still am, always only
ever good enough as fodder for the rumours


and fantasies of strangers who prefer to believe
every caricature is actually a portrait of me,
the point of my contention is vanishing, vanity
so insignificant, beauty a punishment whose short term
the long arm of karmic law ensures indefinite
uncertainty, the higher the cost of surviving, the
further one gets away from oneself and closer
to god, saying for once, with only the
absence of his presence as an audience, what
for so long I denied its worth, the
truth is not that I lied, but that
it hurts too much to hide in plain
sight this disappointment of mine in a talent
which is an embarrassment of riches whose fame
I never wanted to buy, a minor Byron,
or someone trying too hard to be on,
lit like an alabaster lamp from within, as
frightening as I am incandescent, a bastard just
like him, touched with genius for which I
never wished, everything I write is an attempt
to pay, back to the Universe if not
forward, a debt my ancestors left me with.