And I heard black tambourines, stolen
steel guitars, small-room tubas, forsaken
trumpets, green castanets, kettledrums
of gold, stained-glass window pianos
— the orchestra of the alley,
pavement joyously undefended.
That was in the city. In the suburbs, I
gave names to the streets of the casino
housing development. One is Mystic Delight,
another, Diversity of Gifts. These here are
Ministries Lane and Wisdom Court.
The insurance adjustor’s elfin family lives
at 135 Brother Moon Avenue, stone gnome
out front, six feet tall.
I planted the lawns with knowledge and
healings and miracles and prophecy and
discerning of spirits and talking in tongues
and interpreting tongues. On Sister Sun
Way, a hobo camp has been established in
the great room at 431, unheard by neighbors
under their caressment of air conditioning.
From his second-floor back porch, the
precinct captain calls the cops against the
lost tribe jazz he finds hard-listening. He
goes back inside to watch preseason football.
Brother Red Gold
Brother Red Gold is down the line of
succession and covers the flaccid County
Building beat for the Deuteronomy Sun,
getting by, avoiding line of sight,
The scars on his arms are a chronology,
chapter and verse, translated shouts, and,
at night, close-eyed, he witnesses with a
thousand-mile stare the monkey people
clambering up the walls and open-air
floors of the unfinishable Thessalonians
bank tower, gibbering monkey talk amid
the hard ivy and white campions and the
lipstick vines, the confederate vines and
the string of hearts, and the balloon vines,
kangaroo vines and cathedral bells.
Mornings, he forgets all, newborn.
Unknown to him, the monkey people take
up daylight residence along the fragile
inside of his skull, right under the tattoo
signboard of his crib lessons in guilt.
From this vantage, they unsettle his days in
unseen ways along the skin of his face and
the sinews of his arms.
He longs to wash in whiter than snow.
He seeks atonement in writing 50 lines of
“I am heartily.” He seeks absolution in
flat bleak facelessness. He seeks a lancing
expiation as if at the block or in battle, the
head lifted in triumph, finished.
On this Shrove Tuesday night, Brother Red
Gold looks out the wall window of his
high-rise cell at the green highway sign to
Jericho, and the one to Canaan, and the
one to Caesarea Philippi. He vows to make
a pilgrimage down some map line. He vows
to join a cloister to chant Latin down the
rest of his days.
Instead, he heads to the dryer-warm basement
to change his laundry and search absolution.
Hold that tiger.
Like that statue, inert as a mountain, unknowable.
Where were you when I manufactured the earth?
The thirty coins jingle-jangled
as Judas tied the rope.
as David stood on the back porch slab
with his gun in the dark ice-rain.
Can you build the lily?
Boy tied on makeshift altar, knife raised,
a raptor floating above,
From the same womb, and now he is ash.
I remain flesh.
Do you know the path of lightning?
on the shoulders of the bronze Lincoln,
white on green,
as Clark Street traffic
skitters by like so many wildebeests
fearing the big cat.
Ignore the shadows.