by M F McAuliffe
So here I hang or stand
lashed or nailed to this fine piece
from Bethlehem Wood & Steel,
and there you are, Centurion.
I’ve seen you before, a guest where you shouldn’t’ve been.
Most of those eyewhites
puddling out from my feet
have seen me before, too.
They’ve come to watch the death of God,
come to see what saw them as they are
squirm in his turn.
And the rest have come to see the marvellous
Artist-Carpenter-Architect (founder of the Dead Sea School –
all-organic heat-treated mud, the very bend and flow
of thought and water,
glass like air made visible)
and cry out at the final cessation of the contract
as though they’d never complained
about the cabinet-joints when the villa was finished
Oh, no, we can’t pay for that.
Genius doesn’t work for love or money
it works because it must
as though I hadn’t seen the whisk
of Roman cloaks around the corners,
figured out the highholyday scams
and kept my mouth shut anyway
genius works because it must –
as though the spirit of God could never, finally,
stop transforming the world and possibility
no matter what they did
to God, the world, and possibility.
If you put me to death
you put me to death.
And inherit the noontime:
the sun a circle of unhappy wives
the cliffs carved stairways of vision-twisted saints
howling for God
while rivers of blood and marvel continue to flow within them
and wives and heretics continue to burn above them
and wind and sand continue to blow around them
Oh, let me die alone.
Your God is a lie you tell each other
and so your touch is pain.
What is this prison on the skin
this sagging this crawling of pipes and downspouts and torn metal housings
this jellied mortar
this openwork netting
this grid of constraint
What is this rainsoaked plaster
this paste of gravel
The world on my skin
I am prevented by stone.
the line that binds the roundness of the world
runs arm to arm of me, wrist to wrist
Leave my breastbone open to the birds
let livid blue mountaintops rise beneath my nipples
Let the sky drink from me
let its beak peck fire from the land between my hips
Let clouds appear over my holes
Let the high waters stand on the shelf
behind the alkali skull.
Track me through love’s broken shell
its open hollows
its murdered arse its cast-off elbows
its thin abandoned skin
Track me through this flesh-red rubble
I have fallen with the rain.
I am less than smoke.
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M. F. McAuliffe is the co-author of the poetry collection Fighting Monsters (1998) and the limited-edition artist’s book Golems Waiting Redux (2011).
Her short fiction has appeared in Overland, siglo, Australian Short Stories, The Adelaide Review, The Clarion Awards, and Eye-Rhyme. Her poetry has appeared in Famous Reporter, Poezija (Zagreb), and Prairie Schooner, among other venues; her long poem “Orpheus” was staged by the experimental La Mama Courthouse Theatre in Carlton, Victoria, in May, 2000.
In 2002 she co-founded the multilingual magazine Gobshite Quarterly with R. V. Branham, and she continues there as contributing editor.
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Photo by: Diane Grondin