jesus and judas kissed in the garden
moments before the world caved in.
the gospel of judas says that
the betrayer was the most loved of all disciples,
that jesus took him aside and
taught him touched him laughed.
there are two sides to canon, history, myth:
someone somewhere at sometime
wanted a better story,
where the betrayer was held close
and favored, forgiven—
but the gospels all end the same.
the son is strung up for someone else's sins
as judas wastes alone in the garden.
intention is a matter of interpretation
but what is silver worth, really?
and you come to me in my dreams.
to love you after all of this
is apocryphal— tempting yet untrustworthy.
you're not judas,
i'm just a mortal man,
and there is no gnosis, no hidden knowledge,
only apocalyptic revelations now.
the world is irrevocable, just born.
i miss you in the same way
jesus met judas' eyes on the cross.
somewhere in a field of blood
or a forgotten library buried under the earth,
there is a better story.
over time only becoming more unknowable,
hopeful fragments turning to dust
in trembling hands.
not florescent but covered by a translucent screen,
my tense and aching frame washed in a
dull desaturating blue glow.
streetlights speed past neurotic eyes,
like worries of friends i haven't spoken to,
and every awful thing i've ever
said to my mother.
i think of you, of course,
the way i catch my reflection
in the bus window:
a glimpse—terrified and fascinated.
i wring my hands,
a nervous habit when they're
everything i want is
always at my door,
and everything i fear
is never far behind.
why won't anyone let me hold them
from halfway across the room?
stay sitting across the aisle,
as mysterious to me
as any other tired stranger.
i see you clearly
but can never tell what you're thinking.
callused hands over buzzing metal string,
fingers practiced, deft and adept.
i slept there and woke in a memory—
temporary and beautiful and gone.
a song someone played for me once,
over and done, the lone melody of a heartbroken nostalgia.
the past wraps its arms around me—
history speaks— history lies— history repeats.
keep it inhuman, abstract and formless.
best not to give the past a face
or a place to hide in your heart.
they're the parts you'll miss:
kisses, laughter, drowning in a borrowed sweater.
better to leave it all as loosely connected events,
portents of later misfortune, not a room i can't leave,
a grief grappling with the transience of intimacy.
history can't hurt me— the past is dead—
but that song still gets stuck in my head
I REACH OUT TO THE GREAT UNKOWN
with the natural hesitance of a child
nursed on plastic american protestantism,
always prosperity gospel or pariah,
answers just hidden behind a preacher's palm;
in retrospect i wonder what questions those
republican suburbanites crippled in their hatred
came to submit at the foot of the cross.
saccharine and soulless every sunday,
the rot reliably festering under the church stage,
brimstone traded for the wasteland of undecaying concrete.
i was baptized by a stranger in stagnant water,
now swaddled in the arms of a man who is not my Father.
i'm always the cold one. bad circulation when i'm turning away.
that abattoir left a pulsating wound at the
center of my chest— starved weeping
sickly and red.
every sunday, the worst thing i could do was be honest.
i worship with my hands,
i falter for words;
i never got to know the Lord in my youth
because He never called me back.
i find fragments of Him in lovers' eyes—
fingertips glancing over flesh as if
forbidden fruit, sweet real and warmed by sunlight.
i think God was always this;
the simple intimacy of making someone else laugh.
the only time i ever felt devout
was when i was walking to get an arizona tea
at the gas station next to the church with my friends.
stumbling over asphalt still sincere in my vulnerability.
if i play with your hair,
i just didn't know what
to do with my hands.
i'll write a poem and
try not to feel pathetic,
i'll keep hoping or
come to terms with
you not really caring
where this'll go.
beat the odds,
or straight into a
brick wall. i don't know.
i'll kiss you goodnight
and wonder who
you dream about
when you close your eyes.
we all have ghosts
we want to love us.
naked skeletons in the closet
that our memories dress in skin.
i feel so stupid
wishing that you wanted me.
you point out jupiter
in the sky, and i try not to
think about how cold i am.
my ears ring, it's just
i get drunk and act a fool.
i hope you don't know
that you've got me trapped
in your orbit. i hope
i never let you know.
maybe there's life,
but maybe it's just ice
all the way down.
i am simply one of
your many satellites,
caught in a storm's eye
and just trying to keep
my head on straight.
i think if i stood up
i would fall through the floor,
nothing but empty air
and the loyal orbit
of an inhospitable moon.
either way, the sun
is rather far but i know
you'd rather feel
its warmth than anything
anyone would find on europa.
is it too much to ask
for someone to look for me
when i run and hide?
but what i think of as love
would probably be
better phrased as hunting.
so, please, pursue,
rifle in hand,
pull me from my burrow;
at least i'd know you want me.
pretty as a picture -
strung up, throat slit -
anything's better than hiding,
better than a fear
best described as paralyzing.