Words > Poetry


Absolution On the Rocks, With a Twist


The gravelly edge of the old macadam crunches as Daddy Man veers
slightly over his two-cocktail breakfast limit Whoa!
And Mama’s all, Bi-ill! sherry sloshing in her Dixie Cup,
us four kids welded in the back seat to hot Chevy summer vinyl,
looking and not looking for a tiny worn-out sign set meekly back
from the scorching road – St. Lucy’s Catholic Church of Hodge –
forlorn font and peripheral location signifying Catholicism
is NOT the go-to choice for the church-going
in this turtle-slow neck of the north piney woods.
Far from the fragrant black dirt damply settling under
the one hundred and thirty-seven cathedrals of New Orleans,
we aim toward a single consecrated brick rectangle
embedded in The Chitimacha’s red clay of Hodge.
Lucky pagans, or even Methodists, would miss the turn
and be flung past the profitable stench of the paper mill or further still
to actual wet towns with no need for Jubilee –
cross-dressing bootlegger come to wax our floors and pocket the cash,
and slip my Mama her black-market hooch every week,
in our dry-as-dust little podunk town in East Jesus North Looziana;
the pure whitewalled tires of her luscious pink booze-bought Caddy
cutting trenches in the soft St. Augustine grass of our front yard.
It ain’t me that's drunk in this story ‘bout havin’ to go to church
every damn Sunday morning all summer long,
no matter how crazy hot, no matter if my best friend Bernadette
is fixin’ to go waterskiing on Black Lake instead, worse thing about that
being the snakes you might wake falling in the wrong spot,
but I’d still pick some dozin’ water moccasins
over this monthly ecclesiastical misery.
Any minor road accident would be welcome, I pray,
I pray we hit a huge nine-banded armagorilla if it means
I don’t have to go to Confession today,
having traded The Examination of Conscience last night
for finishing Little Women under the covers accompanied
by muffled laughs from Johnny Carson in my parents’ bedroom.
Café Confession, The Confession Concession –
offering ENDLESS REFILLS of Absolution,
The Holy See’s own Long Con of forgiveness,
Penance and Reconciliation! staged in a little wooden playhouse
in the back of all the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Churches
of the world, a facile flat façade with three mystery doors,
Let’s Make A Deal! for your everlasting soul.
Door Number Two forever houses a ruddy parish priest
dispensing mellifluous ruin on the sweaty penitents
kneeling behind doors One and Three,
waiting on the Sin Side for the guillotine slide
to open to the perforated portal just the size
of a Dusty Springfield album cover –
Wishin’, and hopin’, and thinkin’, and prayin’,
…won’t get you into His heart.

Behavior Modification on a Global Scale! Quam Singulari!
Complex as Picard's Theorem, Proustian in its slow seduction,
positively the Renuzit Carpet Cleaner of Holy Sacraments
guaranteed to get out All Damn Spots no matter how Mortal.
Take pederasty,
so-o-o popular in spite of being 13th on the list of 13
Grave Sins Against God And Neighbor.
Now there’s a stain to start with!