By Patrick T. Reardon
Cost me voice box.
Cost me black holes,
greedy tunnels, another atom existence.
Cost acne and lumps, lost cost.
Cost inhale, exhale.
An earthly dirtied dollar, sliced grass blade,
squirrel carcass flat as a poem for reading
on the asphalt street in front of the two-flat
at 435 N. Thomas of Canterbury Boulevard,
the gospel of need.
Cost my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright.
Effective. Of living. Of breathing.
Cost of $58.50.
Of doing business.
Cost me guilt.
Eye shadow. Bag pipes.
Arianism, Manichaeism, Free Spirit.
Cleveland, Detroit, Albuquerque.
Lindell Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, Dixie Highway.
Let us pray, America.
Purple vestment, leather chemise,
pink Saturdays, dark underclubs,
lavender tune, park path at dusk,
night pier playground, raven search,
circle dance, circuit party,
sharp-slice morning, tip-toe border enticement.
“I rose to open for my lover,”
said the Song of Songs.
Knowledge of evil and good.
Knowledge of what it takes.
Take a hit. One for the team.
Thanks be to God.
Cost me missing.
Cost steps. Tactics. Price in coin.
Cost me in action.
Seed library shelves with empty-page books.
Communion of saints, hidden in the storage locker,
Cost gracious. Connection. Painstaking.
All good things, all slimy things,
every thing of dust and atom.
Green and violent, orange and needy.
Glossolalia. Magdalene. Charismatic. Smack dab.
It’s a good day for.
St. Annie Oakley, shoot straight.
St. Albert Einstein, count your blessings.
St. Dante, go to hell.
Hunt and peck.
Be at pains.
Stop ocean tides. Unfall rain.
Let us pray, soil and sun.
Sorrow the abyss. The bleak blank white to come.
Bottom of the well, blue circle above.
Cost Howl and The Waste Land and The Lost Tribes.
The book of Job, Lear. Howl at the whirlwind.
Forty desert days.
Stone to bread.
Lying in a Hammock
at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.
Creeley said: “drive, he sd”
Dylan said: “Let us hope they’ve found mercy.”
Darkness on the face of the deep.
Silence amid cicada hum at 118 Berlin Wall Avenue
Honorable and glorious, a cost.
Wonderful works, full of compassion.
“If thou wert my fool, nuncle,
I’d have thee beaten,”
said the Fool.
Route follow. Track spoor. Turn.
Unsupervised medical students
sit in corners, confessor-like, listening
to sins of gout, nephritis and migraine,
spit-balling penances of 3 enemas
and 3 blood-lettings, while sniffing
powders of turpentine, rhinoceros
horn, coral, balsam and coconut, cost.
Let us hope.
Cost me sun-slash car-top rip,
stick tree before wall-brick office.
Side of face, cupped, cost.
Yes, sir, Senator! Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.
Calling Phillip Morris.
Cost gray ushers, lectors, sacristans,
altos and basses — charcoal burning,
jewels of incense sprinkled, pungent as sex,
rich as sweat.
Covenant, a cost. Commandments.
Stone reporter’s notebook.
Ratio, proportion, calculation.
Carry the five.
Leave it alone.
Garden of delights.
The mansion at 7943 S. Rock of Gibraltar Street,
charred havoc, frozen chaos.
An everyday Flood, fire each time.
Like a rolling stone. Salt of the earth.
Do you remember?
Mother. Carry that weight. Rosalita.
Cost pristine alleys of tax-dodgers, strutters,
unvoiced deep, living gall, chalice.
Mad at the world. Ugly vintage.
Boom joy boom.
Saved by the grace.
An aroma we can’t hold, cost.
Oh, pray goodness and kindness.
Cost the blue-collar guy
with muscled arms and calloused hands
in his dad’s workshop.
Cost the secret learner. Cost thought.
When the wild came in deep-dark electric
along my bones, across the inside of my skull.
Queen of Sheba, boulder goddess.
Mute eunuch in blue.
Elements of wine and bread, fish and okra.
Swallow the raven, feathers and all.
A world of trouble.
A place of plows, millet and iron tools.
Cost the Semite and the Anti-Semite,
the bitter bile and the baby smooth,
forgotten and recalled,
doubt and faith, the tight muscles of strain.
Sinew ripped from bone. Snapped. Torn
like the Temple veil.
Break the legs of the two thieves. All in a day’s work.
Break my legs.
“Oh! thou clear spirit
of clear fire,” said Ahab.
Cost me bloody goat hide, gory sheep skin.
Cost me clothed in the Universe.
Cost me the gangway
at 135 N. Light of the Nations Avenue.
Found poem. Found tribes.
Cost me guilt.
Angry Nebuchadnezzar stoked the furnace
to seven times hotter, told the most mighty
men to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the holocaust, and, inside,
they walked about unharmed with a fourth.
They had no hurt.
Thanks be to God.
St. Enos Slaughter, take an extra base.
St. Elizabeth I, close your legs,
St. Abraham Lincoln, set yourself free.
The flowering branch, bleed of blood.
The ladder wobbles.
Window glass blinding.
Fabric of cement surface, minute seeds of stone,
imprinted onto the hand palm slammed down in the fall.
Found and lost in questions.
Fashioned as I was fashioned, as I fashion.
Like Job, I bow my head to the power and unknowing.
Cost empty pews,
ranks of silent acolytes, in stained-glass sunlight.
Dog took cake from coals.
Drab quarter for the basket fallen to the wood,
sounding out salvation,
a hat-clip mechanism, unused in half a century, cost.
Fear the Lord.
Patrick T. Reardon
This poem originally appeared in Cathexis Northwest Press, January-February, 2023.