O Prophet

Paris has just been sucker-punched
and your mother,
in town for the weekend,
wants to go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral of all goddamn places

She believes her prayer is a force, the sole but mighty spear
she can wield against this mess

You’ve got the heavier arsenal of prudence,
and prudent plans, plans
you spilled handsomely on your friends last night

They seemed to ride from you like capable equestrians
atop plumes of pot smoke

You pictured them galloping, somehow,
to Syria, to D.C., those locked decision-making rooms

Your mother has other plans,
and one is to trap you beside all the other wigglers
in this petri dish of pews

Beside the priest who moves across a French scripture with the rake of his accent,
his milkfed American demeanor

Jésus Christ m’a so vay

He’s not like that woman you’re after—
she’s got the perfect tongue for French
and words like “recapitulate”
You usually stick to “recap”
and English
and a pessimism
that has everything to do with your desire to be, above all,
correct

Si je traverse les ravins de la mort, je ne crains aucun mal

Look at the tourists shuffling through mass
lighting silly candles
dumbfounded and blinky under the tall ceilings of God

Thank Jésus Christ

you don’t affix your hallucinations to the word “prayer”
and launch them into veritable oblivion

Thank Jésus Christ you’ve read
a book or two

Tu es avec moi . . . ton bâton me guide et me rassure

“recapitulate” is pompous you think suddenly—
tell everyone she’s a rich priss

(still the thought of her half fills your slacks)
but your mind is deft and sprawling,
and fills instead
with a breathtaking objectivity

It decrees her too moneyed and frightened
to dip a single pretty toe

into the real, authenticity, our collective human struggle
(in layman’s terms, life)
how wicked she seems now
with her pointy tongue and pronunciations

how wicked
to princessly, tastefully dwell
in the space above all this

And those shuffling tourists, they’re so cemented in life
they probably couldn’t even tell you what it looks like

(People close their eyes where they’re close enough to kiss,
do they not?)

But hey, at least Jésus Christ gives them a few silly candles
to dimly light their lifelong grope
through a darkness and obscurity
best identified by you, from a distance

O prophet, our prophet
with slit eyes
and filled slacks
under the tall ceilings of God and
the most earnest hopes of gazillions:

Won’t you guide us, finally,
to the light of objectivity’s altar
so we can kneel beside you on that cold stone bench
and pray and pray and pray?