Brother Red Gold
By Patrick T. Reardon
Brother Red Gold is down the line of
succession and covers the flaccid County
Building beat for the Deuteronomy Sun,
getting by, avoiding line of sight,
The scars on his arms are a chronology,
chapter and verse, translated shouts, and,
at night, close-eyed, he witnesses with a
thousand-mile stare the monkey people
clambering up the walls and open-air
floors of the unfinishable Thessalonians
bank tower, gibbering monkey talk amid
the hard ivy and white campions and the
lipstick vines, the confederate vines and
the string of hearts, and the balloon vines,
kangaroo vines and cathedral bells.
Mornings, he forgets all, newborn.
Unknown to him, the monkey people take
up daylight residence along the fragile
inside of his skull, right under the tattoo
signboard of his crib lessons in guilt.
From this vantage, they unsettle his days in
unseen ways along the skin of his face and
the sinews of his arms.
He longs to wash in whiter than snow.
He seeks atonement in writing 50 lines of
“I am heartily.” He seeks absolution in
flat bleak facelessness. He seeks a lancing
expiation as if at the block or in battle, the
head lifted in triumph, finished.
On this Shrove Tuesday night, Brother Red
Gold looks out the wall window of his
high-rise cell at the green highway sign to
Jericho, and the one to Canaan, and the
one to Caesarea Philippi. He vows to make
a pilgrimage down some map line. He vows
to join a cloister to chant Latin down the
rest of his days.
Instead, he heads to the dryer-warm basement
to change his laundry and search absolution.
Hold that tiger.
Patrick T. Reardon
This poem originally appeared at The Write Launch on 10.3.2023.