Tyger

It wasn’t a giant leap to swallow the clouds,
crush boulders with glares or nibble great redwoods
into toothpicks. Not with the Jesus compass
orienteering next steps. Proceed to help that crackhead
by witnessing about St. Augustine and his
glowing but shredded raiments of soul. Walk unperturbed
through dangerous neighborhoods humming
minimalist Shaker hymns, content that safety dwells
in the formalism of discipleship: whisper the Serenity
Prayer six times each morning before toothpaste;
polish the nickel-plated cross in the pocket between
thumb and forefinger. It’s got more mojo than prayer
beads at half the cost! The golden mean of moderation
will deliver agnostics to parry with and unreconstructed
Marxists to debate. Yet the golden yolk within the perfect
egg of symmetry remains elusive. Castaneda consumed in fire.
As if chasing the magical white stag through enchanted
forests. The Lord of my understanding is loud voices inside
and will it tell me to wander to where they wear purple robes
and drink pig blood out of rancid deer skulls while the tattooed
sister writhes on a concrete slab. Will it require
paying the dental bills for meth addicts who haven’t flossed
in year. Jesus, he was in the passenger seat wearing a bandanna
when I gulped down bourbon while spinning out dusty rooster tails
on gravel roads. And He was the strobing blue lights behind
the eyes when mescaline fried the neurotransmitters. And
He saw me do those things that corrupt the spirit;
that waitress who lived beside I-85, the 7 a.m. near head-on after
spending the night with Smirnoff, blotter sheet in the briefcase.

It was a dream of an island that was a cloud floating above,
its shadow painting dark silhouettes over immaculate cities.
I drank wine from a silver chalice and spit it out immediately.
Florence Nightingale floated across a rainbow of gas spills.
A Hindu enraptured with sati allows his wife to escape the pyre.
It was a dream that Magritte would have painted or Baryshnikov
danced, had the world not been such a hostile place,
if the Oakland biker gang didn’t shoot that tourist up
with STP before razing him with blow torches; if the Canadian
pig farmer had never slaughtered even one prostitute instead
of 49; if they discovered Iraqi plutonium hidden in Syria,
if Alexander the Great had died young or Mussolini never born.
If Galileo had been assassinated for astronomical heresies;


If that island freed crowded spaces, painted the mountains lavender
or raptured huddled legions, if it was a spaceship to Valhalla
not the flying machine at the bottom of the Potomac
then the compass would read true: I would hold it in my hand
warm, cherished as a fetish, artifact or charm, coax it to yield power
over chicken bones and crow murders, let it exert dominion over
condors and jackals, red glowing eyes, dripping teeth, and all
manner of vermin or vileness extruding from animals yet mankind
yet holy, this unified theory of cells clustered in oneness,
Prime Mover, Elevator King, Universal Mind, ying-ying-yahweh-yadda
electrons of tea, moth, girder, jade, kneecap, the nucleus of stars
teeming in hearts of women, and men, that mistake of ages,
God’s rough draft, scribbled on and spilled over until now
it can be scarcely read.

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