Minor Seminary

The ghostly weight of cassocks hanging on
doors—the slight drag of polyester in
the air, draped shapes without heads or hands or
eyes, keeping watch on pious empty rooms.

Refectory talk, idle morning words:
who’s gay, who’s straight, who’s in, who’s out—no one
knows anything. Words disappear in prayer
like something sinking fast into a lake.

The smell of melting wax and blackened wicks
inside the cold stone chapel; miracles
before dawn; after that, the day. Lunch, class,
confession, laundry; socks and souls both clean.

Eyes closed in classrooms, heaters hissing. Phones
in office ringing; secretaries who
fawn over priests and then go straight to Heaven.
Cheap leather squeaks before the king of kings.

Frail boys, ungrown, who will one day be men
of God, take notes on pages curled and damp
with ink. Like flowers failing or diseased,
like childhood skin scabbed over, bleeding still.


It never rained.
I think that’s what
impressed us most
about the desert.

The sky was striped
with color at
dawn and dusk, tan
to gold to red.

One sifting down
into the next,
stars pooled above
in the deep blue.

In the day’s heat
the sweat appeared
in discs like gifts
upon our skin.

And dripped down to
the sand like rain,
though nothing grew
beneath our feet.

The sun was too
strong to look at,
the sky replaced
by pure white glare.

Through this we walked,
sustained somehow
by fear or hope
or hopelessness.

When night fell we
made camp and talked
for hours until
we fell asleep.

Discussing what
life would be like
once we had reached
the world beyond.

And I can still
see the campfire
smoke drift above
the circled tents.

And showers of
sparks flying up
and vanishing
in the black air.

We never thought
we’d miss those days.
Especially when
we were in them.

But once we reached
the promised land
the desert was all
we talked about.

Those long weeks with
no rain. Don’t you
remember? How
could you forget?

That’s how it was
at first. Then the

Things Fall Apart

things multiply:
like water beading on glass, like
bodega aisles when you’re high

like drinking so
much coffee you experience
yourself outside your body

like insects that
land in your honey-scented hair
and sting until they die screaming

just victimless
crimes: trespassing or drunkenness
or planning out your suicide

things fall apart:
dust makes more dust, disorder breeds
disorder on until the end