There is no difference between faith and unbelief.
Words are bloody rags placed on an altar.
“I believe, I believe…”
Dead men slow dancing with worms, ashes raining from their eyes.
Every prayer, including this one, a tsunami of self pity
a rogue wave in a daub of spit!
All day our faces are gulfs of green undrinkable water.
At night coyotes hunt the river bank for lives more quiet than their own.
Ten years ago you told me
“Come to the river in morning, among grass widows, in blades of light.
Come repeat a name composed entirely of water.
Whisper these syllables across the river not as prayers
but as breath let go of, not expected to return.”
Now you say
“Don’t try to find me where I’ve always been.
Look for me in dangerous places where the poor cook their own hands
I am the poor and the dead. I am meat in the fire.
Only when the tongue is taken back into your mouth in ashes
can you speak my name again.
Only when the roof of the mouth collapses in fire
and the skull is broken into, robbed of everything
Only when you are empty as the endless canopy of sky
can you kneel like a drunk man
amazed to find the full moon floating in a cup of wine.
When you can see the mountains of the moon
bearing witness to a light only the blind may see
and sing words only they can sing whose throats have been cut
only then speak my name.”
There is an oak tree planted by the river
so old only its leaves know the world still exists.
When I sleep, I hear the west fork of that river
and smell it in the fine hair on my wrists.
There is something in me wants to be that cold
wants to come back to itself in deep water
where the river curves and the bank is undermined.
There is a quiet that goes on gathering in the river
until it touches a man between his shoulder blades and he wakes.
But there is no meaning in this world.
There is heaven. There is hell. There is purgatory
and there are hallways leading between them.
You tell me
“Every house is on fire!
The moon is dancing naked on the roof ridge
with all her feathers fallen to the ground!”
“Throw off your blankets! Your sheets are in flames!
Look up and see the bed where you are sleeping is now the unmade sky.”