By Deb Herz

“To return to the living, you have to walk backward.”
James Kimbrell

Loyal to a fault,
Saint Theodore’s
well-appointed orange ears
follow me round the room
like the eyes of a Gilbert Stuart
in the half-light of an indigo moon.

In America,
men don’t like their women fat;
would rather have them lean
and leaning over long tables
in very short skirts.

Fickle as a pair of patchwork cats,
we love with the reckless abandon
of a silo on fire,
straw crackling,
mares frothing,

laying waste
to a summer garden
once hummed
with dill weed, honeybees
and an old gray groundhog
only we could love.

Everywhere else, death is an end.
The first thing
that skinny Swedish blonde
said when she wasn’t running
around naked in her backyard
with Hauser, or eating spinach
out of a can
and washing it down
with a raw egg or two,
was “gimme a viskey,
ginger ale
on the side,
and don’t
be stingy,

Exhausted to the point of tears,
we are taught to trust
our fears
instead of love,
and the hypocritical oath
to do no harm
applies to everyone
except ourselves,
who find it impossible
to accept ourselves
as we really are…
Christian martyrs burning on the grill.

“I think I’m done
on that side now;
turn me over.”

Here comes the cross
we all have to bear:
Our indifference
put him there,
hammer driving nail
through bone and sinew

While his mother watched
and wept.

It took him six days
to create the world
and three days to die,
bleeding out
inside a cave
without a sky.

We should all be made
to hang for that.