Two Poems

beatific vision: or, why I carry a match in my pocket

you were coming up the stairs
holding hands with another 5th-grade girl
where you thought no one would know,
when our eyes met.
and your fumble for words told me
this was no innocent gesture,
I saw that clumsy oaf, fear, bump into you,
watched the awkward release.
trying to hide your hands
I quickly joked about something else
so fear would just keep walking
and mind his own stupid business.
there are so many true things
you won’t learn in our school
things I can’t say while wrapped in this shroud
both trapped in this dusty medieval catacomb.

you’ve been one of my kids for years
but I never saw you,
holding on to who you are in hiding.
I catch a glimpse of transcendence—
a halo of courage—and cling to hope
you will be happy someday far from here
in the arms of a woman who loves you,
and each day I pay the cost: knowing
as sure as the morning bell
I’ll never find rest again
in the arms of this cranky old crone
I loved so long.

no, I will burn down every church
I’ve ever set foot in
before I condemn you—
the one where I was married,
the one where my daughter was baptized
who so easily could have been you—
and any prophet or priest who doesn’t agree
is welcome to stay locked inside,
with his altar boy lover
and be cleansed by holy fire
when I do.


theology of the body

my dark half hates this life.
get naked with the sunday school teacher.
spank her ass with the bible.
that wouldn’t be half so harsh
as the other ways it’s been used
to beat women down.
shut your brain and your daylight manners
in a drawer in the nightstand
drown your hands in paint and explore color.
who cares if it doesn’t wash off right away?
if your hands and arms are rainbow stained
for days or weeks? let that remind you
you are a work of art.
in fact, paint yourself.
paint the fucking sunday school teacher.
she is a work of art too.
stop being so pale,
so predictable.
some days want to be gothic days,
let them:
paint in black and red on those days.
step into your different moods,
your smaller selves, like parts in a play.
let them live and breathe.
bleed the colors to your edges.
put her handprints on any parts of you
she wants to claim for as long as the paint lasts.
memento mori, man,
so put in your rings and studs and climb
into your biggest black boots
or your sparkly, ruby red slippers.

—Conrad Zeitbrucke, Milwaukee, WI