Polluted by Glory


…in a heretic place,
a man cannot be a saint when
he is indifferent
to the evils around him, ask
Simeon, who stood for
nothing but being on top of
something, monk towering
above everyone, model
ascetic more with it,
in tune with it, into it, than


anyone else, urban
hermit riding high his rise out
of this mess, pouting on
his pedestal pivoting hard
against the harshest wind
of societal criticism,
his heavy-handed brand
of self-promoting, socially-
distant, unsociable
mysticism proving more prophet-


able than another
era’s ancient rituals, more
effectual than what
swayed opinion before the news
became the expensive
sensational production it
is now, more lucrative,
even, than any other kid’s
total investment in
performance art spectacle, his


highly original form
of visible introspection
courting full well the scorn
just controversial enough to
win some necessary
attention, before there even
was a mass media,
a visionary’s visual
resulting in channelled
wisdom initiating schisms


with torrid desert breath
which withholding revelations
thickens, coiling round its
middle finger of some Cæsar’s
glacial, palatial, iced-
ivory, wide imperial
marble, a throat of cloud
gambolling all about its veins
twisting like poisonous
roots, choking this Roman column


secrecy swallows in
silence, desolate fist of earth
split to an iron-grey
slit from which springs his oasis
of cruciform arms forced
opened wide by those invectives
he hurls to the whole world
below to behold what ills it
could not control, not then
and not now, not since in protest


he made his ascent, his
pain setting a watchman over
towering sins which he
did not commit or cleanse but pull
from the shadows of their
veiled obscurity, back then and
ever since, so modern
before it was a concern to
call out history for
being so ahead of those still


ignorant of all its
progress and regressions, genius
he was, that savviest
countercultural apostle
hustling hellfire burning
his bible, maverick martyr,
clever devil, fully
aware marketing itself is
a gospel, that dollars
follow, selling salvation not


so impossible, no,
not prosecutable under
the code of canon law
as a novel variety of
medieval simony
if done only for a good cause,
especially when deeds
remembered by poets, doubting
Thomases, Judases,
and worrisome supplicants in


their frenzied finery
of satiny verses woven
from coarse despair, seeding
a fragrant shading of maiden-
haired phrases laced rich with
cynicism’s incense which happens
to immortalize him, yes,
every song a metered prayer,
every syllable
of a lyric a rhythmic spear


nearer to piercing truth
than what liars fear, exile from
this garden, what he did
not yet finished, what I seek to
reveal, read aloud now
what I say here, pointing out for
eternity each sound
and symbol ruined by the crude
political pursuit
of oil, spoiled by the toll of war,


futile toil of angels
proven useless when polluted
by glory, when, instead
of weeping, he kept his own eyes
opened, both focused on
The One zeroing in to drop
once and for all this bomb
hagiographers attribute
to him: that the kingdom
never will come, since it exists


only within one, and
even then, only in some, not
everyone, so goes
the unfolding of the number
ten’s infinite wonder
you must yourself soon endeavour
to discover, the point
that its line and circle contains
everything and yet
nothing in two numerals, on


then off, the sum of all
digits which counts on your fingers
to disappear when fight
with a fist and not a concept
is called for, to roll with
its punches or be floored, flayed raw,
by another’s flaws, those
lightning hits of enlightenment
summoning those its call
pulls not upward to heaven but


down toward the signs this
gnawing gnomon’s grinning, growing
silhouette follows in
pursuit of hollowing those its
dusk swallows, a dying
son dialling in dilations
of angles hallowing
the compassed ground, nodding at hours
as they pass by entranced,
bewitched by false power, empire’s


ephemeral rulers
over all men except themselves,
kings whose philosophy
fails them, slays when questions beggar
comprehension, cryptic
ponderings, fraught contemplations,
offering answers which
escape them, only when night falls
do they ask him the end’s
meaning, a meeting of tyrant


hands bent perverse in an
attitude of fervent prayer, faint
from playing games, at feigned
repentance fading, persuading
innocence to walk back
in until, faced with its loss, they
clock it until it falls
off again, since false modesty
always fails, the same way
any mask eventually


does, he who seeks never
will find what hides right in front of
him, rising like a tide,
a voice like ink from the bowl of
the sky tracing over
and over again, the sinking
horizon’s brim its boom
overfills, prophesying in
rhyming repetitions
an escape in this negative


space, negating the claimed
great importance of anyone’s
reputation, this cage
of ribs is the stadium where
the profane battles with
the sacred, hearts of flame sickened
immolating a thirst
for fame in haste, hoping not in
vain, nor that all has been
a waste, that things can be changed, what


he witnesses is an
exodus of faces raging
against light shame denies,
twinned echoes of sweating
brows melting like the felt
of fresh snow pressed softer under
the weight of candle wax
growing cold, what dust foretold stones
thrown by some nameless god
has blown out, paradoxes of


perplexed souls no longer
clothed in flesh and bone foregoing
the comfort of sandals,
a petrichor of parables
wet with panic quickened,
marathoning Ouroboros
circuits copper tongues of
coursing storm tornado in case
this episode’s lesson
explodes their minds but finds no home


in the heads of those in
the midst of its apocalypse
throes, reminding them how
far they yet have to go, nothing
closer now than the bang’s
beginning blind heroes racing
against time recreate
when perpetuating a myth
they turn into things worse
than this age’s predicament…