“In my best behavior, I am really just like him.” ~Sufjan Stevens

I have it in me
to be the worst; what
separates me from
the rapist or serial killer?
From the thief or gambler
or drunk? We are similar
shapes different only in size
and place. I think this in
the dim light of the stage
during Sunday worship,
while others sing around
me, as they add their breath
to mine, as we all breathe
together with all who came
before – such a stifling
unison. I am enough,
lacking such a choir, lacking
all men, to require the cross.
I have felt beneath
my pulse, the pulse of
that hammer; I have gripped
the rough wooden handle and
cold nails; I have heard
the report of iron on iron;
I have looked on his
beaten body with unconcern
and watched the last breaths
from his heaving chest pass.
Here, now, a cross hangs
alone on the wall, a token of
our remembrance, much
too clean and smooth and
small. Not an instrument
of punishment – it’s true
function – but a Spartan
ornament simply rehearsing
a faded story, pale
and fragile and timorous.


Tet (staff): part 9 in The Red Letters

What ought to comfort shivers bones. Against
such love, I rail and writhe about, a child
in understanding, throwing off incensed
the gentle hands that seek to smooth my wild

and prodigal way. Your soft rebukes incite
in me a vicious silence, haughty pride
surfacing to defend my alleged right.
The length and depth of the grace from which I hide
outstrides my resolute and damning spite.
Your discipline welcomes what ought to be denied.

In light of this, my definitions ravel.
I need such discipline, such love; all else
indulges. You alone can sound the gavel,
sentence me, and save me from myself.