Maybe you were supposed to be my wife
or friend in these empty days.
Maybe it was no exorcism your blind soul
called for, but for a place
at this café table with me
where we, in coffee-dark glances,
in gasoline finger fire signs
could learn that every demon
is only an inverted angel.
Now there is merely some holy statue
hanging mutely from the oak branch
over a marble headstone
washed in the rain of twenty-five years
in a land my feet may never know.
You are as dead as my last cigarette
and my words are only impotent
rain and tears: It is all the same.
She saw epithets like death-spitting cannons scabbing over in silence,
licked the wretched floor of a greasy gas station restroom in the presence of wisdom,
reclined upon the hot ice cream of a far away land,
waved to the tabernacle because the liquor told her to,
smoked a burning hardware store in night’s alley,
vomited at the feet of a holy whore beneath the surface of the earth,
worshipped foolish hippie songs again,
rejected the flaming nightstick and other solemn acts,
touched high rubber boots in the mundane church,
kissed the impoverished vision of womanhood within her own wounded heart,
surrendered her horde of dim marbles from the fallout shelter,
heard a granite crucifix picked for cleanliness,
is wearing cigarettes like firecrackers on a string, protection from the coming flood,
stirred the obsolete flags of foreign countries, vast fortune of the depressed,
and can be found counting the wounds of Lazarus the better to learn humility.