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Gabriel Aug 2020
Welcome to the council of Jezebel,
here are your sisters, your not-quite nuns
who tell you of false modesty,
and how easy it is to strip yourself to the bone.
You’ll be staying here for a long time
because nobody else wants you -
that’s okay, we’ll teach you how to want you
without manipulation or coercion.

We meet on Saturday nights,
and there’s all the red wine you can drink,
you can gorge yourself on bread
and we’ll call the act of gaining weight beautiful;
we’ll teach you that it’s self-preservation
to deny desirability for fulfilment.

You have your own room in this cloister,
and you’ll never have to sleep on the floor again.
We have a library, and a soft workshop
where you can take apart all of your broken pieces
and learn that you’re not a machine
and can live without them.

If you want to leave, you may,
but nobody has ever done that
so we’re not sure how to deal with regression,
but we do not fear it -
we never fear what we do not understand
because we are feminine beings designed to learn.

The council has no rules - we live free,
no leaves covering our bodies as shameful.
We paint each other using berries and apples,
and at night, when all of the stars have nowhere to guide us,
we sing like free mockingbirds,
revelling in the liberty of what we have to ridicule.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
Samson rips me limb from limb,
and I thank him, because God
gave him this power, and who am I,
lowly and lonely, to question
what flowing hair sinks beneath my body
as I commit myself to some kind of ending?

Then I am watching from below,
eternally reaching upwards, asking
for some recognition from either side;
which will claim me for their own?
Purgatory is a too-small coffin
for the only one who is neither good nor bad.

Samson steps over my body,
and I shudder in ecstasy,
perhaps to love a man was to destroy myself,
but false pleasure speaks testament
to how simple it would be
to pluck the hairs from his head.

Above me, Heaven song;
below me, Hell song.
Neither God nor the Devil will admit
that they are brothers singing in harmony,
and nobody will believe
the only person who can hear it.

And then I am in love with Delilah,
and how she did what no man could;
Samson was not flayed in battle,
but taken down whilst he slept
in his conceited neglect of the fact
that it was a woman who led Adam to bite.

Still, I am dead,
and Samson is not joining me.
His soul has been claimed by side unknown,
and here I lie,
coffin-sick and wondering
which direction I should wave my white flag.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
I imagine how soft the hands must have been
to crush supple, christened grapes into wine,
and I sip for longer, staring down the Deacon;
avert my eyes from the wrinkles that find
some hand between, a drop of wine on the palm,
pushing the lifeless red to lips, mine.

With the wood of the pews touching bare thigh
and someone either side of me, I pray, silently,
for the ghosts of the Vestal Virgins who were, too,
boxed into Heavenly pastures, to come and sing,
with cherry-wine mouths, that Hell will be most glorious.

I wish women were priests, and think of how tempting
it must have been for Eve to find gentleness
when Adam touched his remaining ribs - the beauty
of self, she must have eaten an abundance of fruits
grown from male seed, before the apple speaks of tenderness,
of the mirror that shows herself. The cruelty of the snake
burns, and Hell bleeds as punishment for unwritten crime.

But how beautiful it is, to think that God exists!
To think of him lying dead, splayed out,
or perhaps curdling into spoiled milk, festering
in the fetal position, plumes of Papal smoke
encompassing his body, the smell of stale cigarettes
and spilled wine, and a congregation chorus-echo of Last Rites.

I have never been sure how to worship, only the imperative
of the verb - to worship - to allow God to enter wherever he pleases
and to leave wildly, like horses trampling across northern grass.
I have known for as long as I have held privy to thought
that my body is not my own, I must open the gateway to my vessel
and let him free me from sin; Lord, help me,
but I keep finding God in the eyes of a woman.

Finding her at a crossroads is like finding myself in the dark,
forbidden, and the easiest thing my hands have ever led me to do,
except I can no longer recall whether any hymns sung of Eve;
temptation crowns her legacy and we remain treated this way,
like grapes, and there is power beyond omnipotence in accepting
that if we are going to be crushed, we may as well hitch our last breaths
on the lips of women, praying, eternally, for God’s eyes
to have been burned out by his own, masculine light.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
The first plague that sunk into us told us how to see red,
the anger, either alien or overfamiliar, turned inwards
into our stomachs, acidic and bubbling until we choked
on the waters, and still we begged the Nile
for relief, ******* salt from our tears.

And then there was discomfort, slipping into our beds at night.
The women, familiar with the dissimilarity of abject slime
merely sighed in the expectation of their husbands,
but the sensation screamed of newness to the men, and they ran.

When lice came, we scratched ourselves raw and there was redness again,
until the streets were serenaded by shrieks, and long fingernails became fitting
for women who sewed new clothes when the others ripped theirs apart.

The wild animals were like old friends who tore apart already broken bodies;
this was the time that the women sang each other to sleep,
all we could do was offer meek comfort to each other,
telling stories of how this would never have happened
were it not for the pride that never touched us.

Women worried when pestilence came, unforgiving and without discrimination
to our livestock; without food, we starved ourselves intentionally,
hoping with fragile limbs that there would never be enough meat
on our bodies to substitute for sustenance.

Pained enough, we thought we were used to it when our bodies turned against us,
without anger this time, only vile sores that burst in the dead of night;
we soothed each other’s wounds, our hands familiar with battle scars
and hoped that it would be enough.

The end of days could not come faster than when the fire rained down on us.
Some brave women, tired of being sacrifices, ran towards the flames,
either weary and half-finished already, or aching to find a burning bush
through which salvation may lie for those who did no wrong.

An attack on our senses droned into nothingness as locusts fell,
their bodies used to punish us, a concept of which we wept for,
we knew intimately, and sobbed not for the chess board
but for the pawns who must always fall first.

It was strange, how much darkness felt like reprieve,
in those three liminal days where our songs were unburdened
and rang free across the devastated plains;
oh, those days we sang so loudly that it was almost over.
They were almost free, and we were almost able to go back
to how we were different before.

But tragedy seeps slowly in the night on the burning wings of angels,
and our firstborns were stolen.
I, still young, did not bear the grief of mothers, but I was the third child.
It’s harder to be going than to be gone.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
Herod’s fingers taste
of earthquakes, of disaster,
of the spit of the woman
he liked before me.

Potiphar’s coins ring
in my ears, on my fingers,
a pile of gold to drown
my splayed body in.

The two men play poker,
and I am the bargaining chip,
for their straight flush,
ashamed and disinterested.

Herod will not fold,
his pride venomous
against his meaty chest,
all wiry hairs and “I dare you”s.

Potiphar raises the stakes
with a flash of gold tooth,
and drags his finger along his neck,
slender and elongated.

The guillotine already feels familiar,
as the rules are plucked
like fresh grapes
or the only rotten part of the fig.

Herod beckons me forth
to look at his cards;
“yes,” I say,
“you are ruthless.”

Potiphar snatches me, now,
and I see his hand,
“yes,” I say,
“you are wise.”

Both men want something.
A prize to rip open
and sink their gluttonous lips into
like they do not know Daniel.

I want out of this room,
the sticky heat of summer
is beginning to upset
the restless lions.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
Somewhere beneath the broad darkness
and the landslide, there’s a pocket
of nothingness, like the air bubbles
that oxygenate red wine. And somewhere
inside that, there I am,
mime-hands loving Stevie Smith
and all she stood for. A void
is just a void, and a poem
is just a poem, no matter how
you read it. You can bring this
into the church and line it up with the stained glass,
looking for a hidden meaning,
but I know this nothingness intimately,
like I know soft skin and the taste of *****,
and there is nothing to be found in there
that isn’t already inside you, except
maybe warmth and candlelight
and the idea that nothing is too far gone
to not be saved anymore. Sometimes,
I think people intentionally obscure what they mean,
like they’re not good enough for a line break,
and like it’ll be easier to rationalise being left behind
if they were limping from the start of the race
anyway. Anyway. Sorry about this;
sorry about all of this, I just really like how it looks
when you try to work any of this out.
Because it looks dismal. It looks like a pregnant
sundial churning out another day,
another day that might be Sunday,
but it also might not. It’s not like I know.
I think this stopped being a poem a few lines ago
and started being something to burn, instead,
but you can take the smallest of lighters
to the mightiest of Goliaths and they’ll scream
all the same. I heard that lobsters scream
if you put them in boiling water whilst they’re still alive.
I feel like that sometimes.
I don’t know if I’m the lobster or the water,
most days. I think I know now.
I think I know something, now,
at least.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
The woman’s width is claimed by God;
milk and blood mingle into love,
and the King of Kings is crowned in the birth canal.
Invite all the strangers to gawk,
their gifts garish and presented with condition -
she will, one day, be an afterthought,
not a second, but a fourth.

She will gather with those who will one day mourn
alongside her, her hands fresh salt
and the rest of her the wound.
It was never a choice that came willingly,
but from Ophelia to Monroe
she will be remembered how men wish her to be.

When her face appears in streams and mirrors,
know that only the reflection has power -
she has plucked the cord from between the mountains
and now her womb will glisten,
slick with sweat and blessèd water,
in the fifth layer of the eternal Heaven she was promised.

The woman, with her limbs and eyes and cracking bones,
is supposed to rise, but the writing stops
after the men have played their little game of execution,
and scholars pick up the pieces
of the heavenly woman of Revelation,
grasping at umbilical straws for a meaning to what she gave.

Thin bible pages are dedicated to her lithe form,
her childbearing hips that filled out with the grace of God,
for Joseph’s carpenter hands to carve and clench
and give him cuckoo-sons,
but he is Joseph, and he can shout louder than she,
and raise hell to the Heavens
if he wants to.

She, fruit-bearing mother,
is only taken ****** to Heaven
because there was an angel
who requested something to pass the time.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
I’m told to seek penance in the rosary,
and I want to throw the bible in their faces,
because how can they forget Lot’s Wife so easily?
How can trauma be so effortlessly muddled
in the word of the Lord?
How am I supposed to forget all that happened to me?

It is my fault, I’ve been told,
for looking back,
for dwelling on it until the bitter salt
becomes me, and I am a pillar,
but I will not forget so easily.

I cannot forget, if at all,
and those men in white robes speak testaments
of electric shock therapy until I am drooling,
and they are collecting it in a vial,
and it’s another story about trauma
that becomes seasoning for the lamb.

It is my fault, I think,
as I look back
and wonder what could have been done differently.
What I could have said or done
to prevent the men of faith
from ripping me to shreds
in their own stories.
Why am I,
not quite feminine and not quite fragile,
just a story to be told over beers and whiskey
about how I am a stepping stone
to your pillar?

Why do you get to be the pillar?
Why do you get to be the stone?
Why am I the salt-like spider webs,
stronger than your steel
but broken by your diamond hands,
born from the coal that I forged?
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
You are man.

You are named as such.

Here is stone.

Build a pillar. Call it yours.

Hello, Cain. Have you heard of shared glory?
I don’t think you have; that’s okay,
neither have I, for I am the One,
and nothing can take that from me.

You wish to be this way?
I have told you;
here is perpetual stone,
you have all the tools necessary.

Necessary for what?
For legacy.
For eternity.
Baby, hold onto me.

Angel, that’s what you’ll be,
baby, darling, mine,
take the stone
like man who lies with man.

What? I have betrayed you?
You should know this.
My love is Abel,
my love is not yours to give.

Unless, of course,
you want to take it from me.
Yes, that’s it,
take the eternal stone.

This is the history you want to craft.
Violent, ******,
and completely, utterly,
yours.

You are man.

You are named as such.

Here is stone.

Build a legacy.

Hate it; call it yours.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
Gabriel Aug 2020
He puffs out his chest and takes up space for two,
long before the temple is destroyed.
Nobody has told him ‘no’ in a long time,
and nobody has ever taught him how to be humble.
This is where he stands, tending his animals,
spitting and swearing and squaring up to the pigs,
his face ballooning in redness, all the majesty
of colour given to him alone by God.

His masculinity is ripe with each slain animal,
domesticated and reared for sacrifice to please another,
another man, for whom pride is not a virtue.
Nobody has ever taught him how to be wrong,
and so he is never wrong, right up until the moment
when the stone is in his hand and the blood is on the stone
and the brother is in the blood and the history is given to the brother.

For the whole of time, there has been the trinity,
and with four alive, it was simple maths of which brother
must be cut down. The strong must **** out the kind,
and Cain will go down fighting one day,
but not today. Today, there is a victor, and a title,
and a promise ripped from the heart of the father
that nobody will hurt him the way he hurts.

It is the stone that cycles back,
like rainwater or bad luck or the static feeling
of something going very wrong.
These men do not lie, they deceive,
and Cain was granted protection,
until his house fell down
and his body, under the rubble,
for the very first time,
knew the communion
of what it is like to lose.
From a collection of poetry I wrote for a creative writing portfolio in second year of university, titled 'New Rugged Cross'.
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