A SERVANT OF GOD WITHOUT A HEAD V
Back then, the dying lay
hypnotized. We let each see
his desire. (Dialysis took all day.)
One might love making birdcages:
Step into your shop. Another,
crave heaven: climb this street --
See the far off glowing wall.
We’re out of your wine,
the waiter concedes, words
cut up in clatter, face starred
in disco light from the dance floor.
But we have another, a lot like it,
from a vineyard called Clouds At Night.
There will be a gap in the black
when you die. Luckily, you are
board certified for instrument flight,
or the joy of seeing miles in darkness,
cities and farmhouses scattered along rivers
would be a fireball as the plane races
into a mountain, upside down.
So, Days of Awe dwindle away.
A moon, unseen for 47 years,
announces “hawg killin’ weather.”
Leaves turn the color of bourbon
and hogs tremble deep in their guts.
What dark force has deleted
the Email refuting all this? What
devious legion from your past drags
out the nickname you hoped would be
forgotten, O "Pythagoras Reborn?"
(On the news, Guliani lets slip --
The Surrealists are back from the dead.
They have consented to reside here,
in New York City, under cover,
for the foreseeable future.
Reporters stir, astonished,
shouting out names. Breton?
Artaud? Desnos? Eluard? Dumal?
Perhaps the long lost Pierre Unik?
Marcel Noll, not seen since
the Spanish Civil War?
The mayor lifts his hand:
If you knew who and where
they were, he cautions, it could
compromise their dreaming.)
Or here, in the swamp of
Neveranger Isle, where our souls
turn the deepening blue of patients
in an imperiled ward. And I lie down
where your lovely scent falls
like rose petals from a cloud,
and the pain under the bandage
on my side flares. Elsewhere
in this video game called
Acts of the Apostles,
an elixir wagon speeds
into the next county, just
ahead of the sheriff, and the voice
of W. C. Fields rises in the last
flickering of the day's flame
over a forest of thirsty snakes,
at the hour the grandson of
Herod kills the brother of Christ,
hour I open the home testing kit,
piss like there’s life inside m . . .
We are trading our hopes
away like derivatives based on
cloud flow over the Valley of the Kings,
where a circus tumbler turned adventurer
finds, now, the tomb of whoever
I once was: 1) Osiris, 2) Eros,
3) Christ, 4) Marcus Antonius,
or 5) whoever’s viscera now
win rebirth as bait in that final
pit bull match behind the military
school, where leaves are turning
the color of a lemon cake made
for a birthday, if this were Honolulu,
and the night sky were a blindfold,
black, as the thicket from which
Abraham pulled the lamb, black
as the bodice of a pop diva.
Note: Joseph Donahue has two new poems forthcoming in the 20th anniversary issue of Verse.