milkweed & fed
originally published by t’ART Magazine.
here lie notes, complaints, journal entries, drawings, fictions, frowns, heartaches, heartbreaks, new lives, old deaths, poems, coupons, confessions, ————s, bad impressions, lyrics, post-everythings, decent vulnerabilities & other writings from sweatpants that one day I’ll want to forget.
corner drunks sleep when the candle
lights. not to freshet space; but to keep wake
so as to not bother others. no distinction beyond ordinary
except that I dream of this flame——
but in those dreams it’s too bright for
wick to hoard or tax, and I chase it when heads rest beyond oniered dustings. or rather,
give up——because then, in revelation’s nude, it scurries at the slite/est lift or turn.
and so I cannot write about light; not truly. not like in the moments when haunt and aspiration seize swinging hands and call and facedaway and rove red.
I sat in the back pew to not be noticed. It had been twenty years, twenty at least. I was raised Wesleyan
but stumbled upon this Catholic mass. Though I was an imposter, that denominating gulf didn’t seem to
It was a blue Sunday in Fall. I’d gone to hear the choir. Whatever faith had once meant to me always
entwined with harmony, whether it be a pop hymn or a Bach mass. That’s the only time I could ever
understand euphoria as relating to God. But I knew that when I left, the ephemeral blind faith would leave
me too. It always had. So I crowded close to the pillar of concrete at the end of the pew, too shattered to
drop to my knees. I lowered my head and put my hands between my legs. There—not by choice, but what
I can only call necessity——I had my first grown prayer.
I couldn’t remember how to do it exactly, but I’d pushed uphill for too long——
I thought of mom, who I’d abandoned. Of her sacrifice so that I could walk away; of all the things I’d
never know. And when the priest spoke and the choir took their seats, the betterment of everyone I knew
came to mind——or at least those I could picture.
When my head hung for long enough I looked up and opened my eyes. There, above the chapel, was a
carving of Jesus. Its shape reminded me of what little impressions I still had of Hopi art. The lines of the
cross and crown were not parallel or perpendicular, rather, they were angled with chaotic intersection.
Even so, there was a delicacy that I can’t explain and someday will attempt to draw instead. Above that
carving with painted red feet, a small creature fluttered up to the window at the top of the towered altar,
where the sky would usually have been grey.
I came to realize it was a black monarch when the rays coming through the glass caused it to silhouette. I
suppose it could have been a moth from that distance, a big one, but there was something paced yet free
of form in the way it moved above the priest’s words, embodying their rhythm.
The monarch landed on the window’s crossbar. The window bay itself recessed, and even from my seat I
could feel dead flies on its ledge. There must have been a draft that high because a spider’s web (or
perhaps a cobweb, depending on vacancy) blew. Inevitably the monarch would be caught.
The choir rose for Alleluia chorus and I decided I didn’t want to participate any longer. Faking
this——taking a different Christ——felt like something that might upset mom.
When that ritual ended, a humiliation followed. I hadn’t talked to a God or Goddess in so long. It sobered
me, later——for what is religion other than a cult that’d carried on for too long? Had I really not had
credence since boyhood? Since my grandparents had right minds and still walked the earth? Since my
brother was virginal and had forgotten it okay to feel both good and bad alike? Whatever had drawn me in
(maybe just the music) ceased to matter. And in all of those prayers both from that day and a thousand
and one days before it, I realized that I’d never asked for much. Not a fast red car or tee shirt. Maybe this
had been taught and I’d forgotten. I needed nothing, but is prayer for those in your own life selfish?
The monarch tried to push through the glass leading out of the towering chapel. Yet I didn’t sense it was
freedom from the building that the monarch cared for, but rather to escape the decay around it. And
there——above wooden Jesus and the flesh priest, where wings and legs brushed against the web carcass,
and the dead flies rested in the outlooking tomb——life and death cycled, despite ever reaching a heaven or