Through the narrow streets of Chicago, Christ carved in marble
is carried upright on a cedar cross.
Pigeons heavy with wonder bread drop from rain gutters
to take a closer look the face of Jesus bright as a magnolia leaf.
The green of his eyes is the emerald of veins in a mother’s afterbirth.
I have always been the prophet of loss and a lover of the wasteland.
My heart is wide open to anyone who has no value
whose only skill is knowing how to breathe.
A voice will carry for a hundred miles in the wasteland.
It will echo like bones snapping in an alley
or hot stones tumbling fire into a waterless arroyo.
It’s up to us to look into the face of the one
who comes to tear the night from our throats.
With grace we cannot hide from that black face whose teeth glow in the absence of light
like thirty-two pharisees in a sepulcher.
With grace we cannot close our ears when a voice
we know is our own tells us in whispers
how we will die.
Every blow, every lie, every kindness we have done
is the swelling of a wave that lifts and separates and carries us where we may not want
Grace does not ask permission.