Mocking the chrism, oil grunges the curbside. Unmistakably a crack house with plywood windows as if it were a bombed chapel.
Buyers come and go with that slow but panicky shuffle, talking to themselves about themselves, and smooth the cash crumpled in their pockets like used tissue.
None notices grubby sparrows, contented anywhere from here to an altar. Or swallows that make their homes under the eaves, habits filthier than anyone on the streets. Just look below their wretched nests.
But in flight, gathering insects to feed their young, they glitter like blue-black and burnt orange shards of stained glass.
Neuro-witchcraft: the hippocampus boiling a cauldron of bad memories.
Its slow fire burns deep in the temporal lobe, beyond reach—fire without smoke, but reeking of sulphur and enzymes that emit a sickly green light, the only illumination down there.
No moon delineates that landscape, though distant lightning sputters and even farther off, the murmur of weak, erratic thunder—unless it’s a sorceress coughing.
An Endor you ought to avoid.
Now and then, something from the past surfaces like an aneurysm that might kill you before mercy dissolves it. And that could take years.
The sun drops its broom early, leaving unswept the cloud debris from last night. Not lazy, but no one wants to celebrate a new year with tedious old chores.
Scraps of gilt cling to bare branches like foil from champagne bottles.
Or so you think, earthly-minded if not hung-over. But it could be light the sun left behind still glowing after dark—no more faded than gold leaf on an ancient, illuminated Psalter…
One of those verses that promise the Holy Spirit will come.
Don Thompson has been publishing poetry for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. A San Joaquin Almanac won the Eric Hoffer Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.