No. 4 & 5


Mark DeCarteret  

Suggestion Box   

A minute of so-so grasping then this hymn 
where the wind hums along, exasperated 
and someone's strung starlings to the sky 
while I'm steered to my spot rather roughly. 
Me and my memories, my makeshift interior of elbows.
Sure, it'd be more comfy in the shade 
amongst the sweet sweat of pines needles, 
away from this pit, the sun's reproachful hiss. 
To be lost again, far from the much-too-soft O's 
of the priest's somber God, the well-wishes of his robe.
I take everything he says with a palm full of ashes. 
His handshake a rasp.  And the rest of him bluffs. 
Our bodies have been weighted down with cloud. 
We shake and act surprised by the shaking. 
Shift our feet.  Listen to what sound the ground makes. 
There is nothing anyone can do and yet anything's
preferred to mere floating, that delicious decline.
Oh, detachable tongue!  Heart bundled up in stems.
The moment where I'm truer is a brief one, 
emphasized with invisible welts and contusions of light. 

How I sank into the limo's black leather.  Played at grief. 
A commercial for lip gloss never leaving my head. 
And the violet tint to everything--the prayer book, 
my flesh, even the cigarette burns on the carpet.
From out here you watch, becoming more idle,
perfecting the expressions of sick children 
while the gravedigger's hounded by a butterfly,
its wizened patterns and powdery mechanics. 
How we take and take, maneuvered by chance. 
These fears always cropping up in threes. 
I'm this pull-toy with designs for hostility. 
A fraction.  A joyless dance.  Some stricken truth. 
So it's here where they've asked me to mention
the stars once again, their unconscionable requests.
But instead, I force petals from my skin. 
Draw as close as I can to the woman 
in front of me without frightening her. 
We all come back a second time, of that much I'm certain.
(Though some would say saying it's miracle enough.)
But in time we'll be nudged by some seedling, 
some rejuvenated scarab or star-blossomed thing 
and we'll dig, real slowly at first, with our fingers, 
up through this legacy of doubt, but we dig.

Harvey (Saint)

Who can ever be sure what one sees
with oneís eyes closed?  Though born blind
thereís a darkness more convincing than any disease
that has gathered the shadows once thought left behind.
Yes, my heartís become full as a fist--
cinched on this prayer and its burden of dirt.
And doing this or that with my fingers no longer proves I exist,
even with the assurances coming out from the curtains. 
So in the hills I will seek out a silence
which has never been familiar with light,
then deposit myself in the throat of some long-winded cave
and rely on the rising of my stomach, my wolf-sense,
to teach me what has always been held true by night
about how the lowliest of gods must behave. 

Blood, like warmed wax, leaks from my side 
   turning one more shirt
into sacrament; snug in the gap between Virgin and princess
   I'm the wind being wound, the lullaby sung 
where the peculiar worm is snatched off 
   a pile of dung.

Next-to-nothingness comes natural to the multiple-born, 
   betrothed to their corners like pieces of dirt. 
Even at homecoming, I'm curled into honeycomb, 
   garnished like a float, the class flirt.

I wake the next morning, torched fields in my lungs,
sores on my palms and my arches as if I'd been stung 
by blessed circuitry, my body ascended by curious fingers
   each asking where it hurt? 

Prickly and cured, I'm a delicacy for the injured,
   the slow-to-catch-on and the blind
except for my hands, two unfed projectors 
   managing nothing but light. 

In bed with my prayer cards, mother's housecoat 
   besmirched with desire
I snap crayons in half, using menace to bind
each lurid manhole and misfortune to write 
on this stick-it.  Went to buy underwear, habits 
   will bring back some pestilence, any luck, fire. 


Here, stuck in church traffic,
my heart lathered with disquiet,
I am crushed beneath the wheel
of some ghostly contrivance.
The sunís trying to jimmy the side door.
And another cloud marks me for life.
Iím at a dosage where the minutest
of movements, advice, causes strain. 
Even my mouthwash doesnít sit well.

Nothing more than this check in the heavens
a buzzard patrols in cramped circles,
its wing-ends like the shred skin of tire
and yet still itís alit, spire-white.
Iíve known just enough light to condemn me.
Now Iím able to fit my entire hand
into where there had once been a tooth.
There! a rat glowering from out of a bin.
My tongue is poking out, greedy
for the fix of the passing lane.

I transfer some tremors to a holding tank.
With this pen from the hotel
I can listen through walls or even take
down the names of the eternally restless.
Something is starting to stir
from out behind the stone.
Word has it my Savior suffered more
from the slight of one splinter,
those slurs he wouldnít hear 
until after the weekend was through.

Thomas (Saint)

I had only touched the Christ
where there had been an absence
of Christ, my finger exiting out the back of His wrist
like some cable-rigged ghost in a séance--
what was left of me assuming a fist
(even the digit that should have had more sense)
as if thinking who it was Heíd last kissed
where the cedar and blood was to mock His own scent.

I am both wind and the descendent of wind--
for what feels the heartís loss any more than the tongue?
When you see Him give word of me, twin
for it seems I have ended up like I had begun.
Curse those who remember so little of their sinó
mine defines me, its presence reminding me that I have none.



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