Saint Paul, who is often painted balding
glum, told us, "If there be
virtue, if there be any praise,
on these things."
Christine who's an idiot and not really
friend called "L'Eglise de Jeanne d'Arc"
"Jeannie Dark Church"
is cool actually
its own particular way.
The theme is particular vices: strands
beads and heavy brass earrings, skulls,
wilted in a vase, pomegranates
red juice, a map of the world
America a yellow bar surrounded
blue, your reflection
a mirror because
Saint Paul also wanted all of us dressed
the armour of light which Jeanne d'Arc
on in the end and perhaps it protected
and perhaps it only hurt.
It has to be enough to make you feverish
ill but in a good way, really,
in a way that your cheeks are always flushed
nothing ever tastes good enough
eat so you forget how to
swallow and remember only
sing and that's how you generate
your own astonishment
the tangled way life funnels down
a dark painful source
envy and praise.
Well that's that! Somewhere some people
singing Gregorian chants a capella
monkish tenor voices and if I
find anything to envy I'd envy
with anxious deliberation,
praise light so busy and abundant
surplus breeds wonder and
ends in a sudden flash of blindness
never goes away
The manuscript illuminating the fall of
the rebel angels
reveals that things must cease to be what
for the angels are no longer graceful or
they lack wings to lift themselves from
which yawns below them: the mouth of a mongrel
The rebel angels asked, "Why
should God be always
God? Even Music Television has at least
of change," and so were damned. If the imagination
is anything it is a prism, and hell is life
without it: A place where things turn into
what they already are: chairs become chairs,
is always Mozart.
In the miracle of birth what
should be one becomes two.
In the tragedy of stasis what should be
nothing worth saving. If the imagination
is a prism,
pain coats it with sticky grime, any light
as gray and unwavering as suffering in hell,
where travel is always at
night and by train,
the windows too grimy to reveal to the demons,
and bored listless humans whose heads rest
the damp rocky landscape. So passengers
their minds for curses they have never been
Passengers have as well no word for dissatisfaction
or even lack; their own names remain
as ineffable as even God declared his name,
the language of need a dark angry stain
on the flat sky
pressing itself wetly to the train.
Futile, gazing at the sand-colored rocks
of some holy city and the loopy signature
of a friend who says she loves you from
You need to go look at something large,
the Grand Canyon perhaps. Stand right
next to the edge. Make someone hold onto
you're scared. You should be scared.
From the rim of the Grand
Canyon there is much
you cannot see. Still you will find
mud and donkey shit all mixed up with
intolerable beauty and the conviction
that we live in a universe more stark, discrete
and varied than five weak senses can know.
Your own body, for instance.
You know its odors,
its curves and hollows. But you'll never
blood cells in your brain clustered in collages
so beautiful they terrify. And sometimes
beats so loud you ask yourself When's
gonna quit? As if another noise, more
persistent still, might not take its place.
After all we are citizens
of paradox, as morose
as statues of husky Christians and more
than a shaft of light making its twisted
through the streets of Bologna. While
at a lake in China it's morning, everything
in shadow. And always the stars, remote
non-threatening, make you feel small
but not afraid. You need to feel afraid.
You need to be shocked by
You need to see it and surrender. You need
to make your surrender an act of defiance.
In that peculiar nation of wonder, listen
as something tolls out the hours of the
A distant fugue, scarce and compelling.
From that place love no one. Come home
and love us all.