Monday, April 26, 2010

A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to John

I met a sixty-some balding type with a gray beard
The other morning at mass.
His name is, John.
He sat behind me the entire half-hour it took
To admit his curiosity about
My book.

I handed him Kinnell's.


And taking it in his grasp he
His way

Scouring haphazardly the text, hurrying the moment

Up with one eye on

For the right time to
Plumb the depths of my disclosure

And vault like the sharp edge of a flag-pole
Into the treasurefield of my journal's memory,

Mapping my exposure like creation
and God-conquest
To become suddenly and
All at once
A soulmate and stranger,
Late to receive the body because
He was busy drinking my cup,
Sapping its sweet but not unbitter pithiness
For capture of all the rapture I've dismissed.

I came back to my pew after communing
And with a glance
Furtively up over up and down,
Turned to cover my leather-bound, boring history
With a poem written on the palm of my right hand,
Its sweat inking blue while I tried to hide myself
And stare straight
So as not offend
This new proprietor of my psyche.

He got in,
Just like that,
Entering just as unassumingly as he left,

Though I imagine him hiding
A shyness in his non-chalance.

Either that or he called my bluff,
Inwardly disdaining and
Shaking his head at
The sad litany of my pedantry:
Pseudo-intellectual diatribes
And poesies full of unconjugaled panzy.

It wasn't until after the last
That I caught his name.
And that only happened because I swerved around
To ask
Just as
He was bending to retrieve and leave with his Christ-rote,
Bound in red and marked in hand
With gold letters on the cover in
"Christian Prayer":

David's songs and other psalms I've read
That search my ground with an airy tongue
To slake slake its thirst
On the bush-burn that rises in a swirling phoenix of alchemy
Chanting its ecstatic cosmos
Upward into narrow concentrecities of steeple-straight incense.

I've probably parroted worse incoherencies,
But I wonder anyway,
Whether or not this John will judge my truth as
The real truth,
So help me, God,
And not
Some nonsense,
Glossed over with the decaying sweetness
Of maudlin letters about love's impatience
And other trifles to which Kinnell would've given
A far-more patient

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