Where did you come from?—
bloom of fireworks, lighting up every horizon
since I first knew you. And when I close my eyes
in the clouds of night I can see your face,
hope coalescing in the contours
and each eye a compass rose.
Where did you come from, and how
did I find you, wandering unguided as I was
without true north, affection magnetic
in the pull of poles inside me,
or am I an iron filing drawn
in long, straight lines to where you are?
Are these words really for you
or the One who made you?
Maybe somewhere in between.
Maybe our footsteps belong to us
and not just to us, maybe the compass pounding
in my chest and yours leads to the same horizon
for reasons that shine brighter than
the stars above it, so shape these hours
with me as we are shaped into constellations
to navigate by, true north waiting
for all our steps in between.
Written for, and recorded on,
the Vatican Vamps track “Tir Na Nog”
1 Corinthians 15
O death, where is thy sting?
which once bit deep and tore pieces of me
out like cuts of steak—
they are broken
your claws removed
confiscated like a misused toy.
O great predatory beast
whose saliva once fell like
acid to corrode men’s hope—
you wear an iron muzzle
and feed only when your master
And what is your food? o machine
once fueled by our consumption
the converting of life to
now you are less a crematorium
than a door to dew-kissed fields.
Black wolf that once stalked
the lengths of the earth
my king met you on a hilltop
and took hold of you
wrestled with you for three days’
descent down the rocky slopes
under the cool shale of a tomb
pinned you at last,
bound you with chains and padlock
put the key in his pocket
and walked out into the morning sun
with holes in his hands
like fenceposts plunged through dirt
to declare This territory
has been claimed.
Domesticated death, I have known you,
but I will know you anew—
when I am old and gray and
my king decides it is time,
turns the key in your kennel
when I welcome you
man’s best friend
when I throw a stick and you fetch me
I will scratch you behind your ears
fur loose in the summertime dusk
shed my fear like a funeral shroud
and I will take you for a walk
in the greenest fields I’ve ever seen
as I tell you, “Good boy. Rest now”
and hear my king say the same to me.