Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NEW! Poem by Joseph P. Wood

Joseph P. Wood

The Broken Body as Spectacle

Arch the back, the Romans do, then pierce the criminal with large rusty hooks, cruel fisherman angling out the condemned’s will like a bass in a raging, white stream. Finally, give or take twenty soldiers, hot & soiled, the monstrous gold helmets slipping over their eyes, each commissioned to shatter a segment of back so when the criminal is raised to the cross, they can slump him over a wooden arm, hang him upside down, & cinch the dangling hands & feet into a folded 180. Time will do the rest: each orifice to be picked so clean by crow or maggot or microbe that a year later, one could find the skull & firmly plant a votive candle in a socket. And say, at night, a holy man lit it? Would his audience, in their own idiosyncratic methods, strive toward a life as pure as a wind-swept cypress? If so, then why do the children spend their days in stealth & stuttering, as if some random madman would force a crown of decapitated rabbits? And why are the cathedral floors black & less black, as if they sucked the sun & spit back rotten teeth? It’s enough to throw oneself at the ocean, but the ocean just will bloat us: a walrus in place of a mother, coral in place of a God, sand in place of a law—this is how the Romans conquer.

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