American Spirits

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 09, 2018

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Submitted: August 09, 2018

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The reason I smoke

American Spirits

on my porch

is because

a month after I was born

I was baptized.

.

Why,

mom, dad,

did you think

giving me over to God

was a good idea?

.

Burning tobacco

is like the Holy Ghost

in my nose

and on my tongue

and it burns,

and I get it,

why tongues of fire

fell upon the brows

of twelve clueless

disciples.

.

Who would have known

that Gethsemane

was in my backyard

just after midnight

when I wrestle

with not caring

about life after death

but

being terrified of hell?

.

I can hear the choirs

and sometimes I see

angels in garbage cans

or driving really fast cars

or barbecuing on the street

or

or

I once saw Raphael at the bus stop

.

They keep saying

THERE IS A GOD

THERE IS A GOD

CHRIST IS WATCHING
.

I spent twenty eight years

asking for a sign

and You spent a millennia

cursing stigmata

and making snakes cower

and putting a palm

over the sun,

but for me

you waited

until I crossed every sin off

on my heart,

heaving from the last

hundred or so packs

of nicotine.

.

Why did you wait?

Why did you wait until

I was banging my head against

the window

in reconciliation

to put an archangel

in the grass and the paper?

.

Every slight puff

You decree

PREACH LOUDER

and I puff longer

and You say

PREACH LOUDER

and I puff longer

and You say

PREACH LOUD

and I puff longer and

I suck so hard my lips turn inside out.

.

God,

take this cup away from me,

it overflowed with my drool

after every time I tried

tangerine flavored dip

and didn’t know where else

to spit

and now you are reminding me

of every evil deed I did

when I bow my head

in practiced reverence

and I see the stains on

my shirt.

.

My stigmata are my

shaven nails

chewed when I know

I’m not alone

but I can’t tell if

the creature in the dark

is one of Your boys

or if that’s

Old Scratch,

probably not even worth

showing up himself,

probably got one of his earls

to stand with scroll

and quill

to record the times I looked up

to heaven and said

pfft.

.

Tell me then,

what can I do?

What can I do to hold onto

this backwashed soul,

dripping like slime down

cracked and bleeding

fingernails

because so many times

I thought

if I beg now

You’d laugh

and when I stand at heaven’s door

you’d flick me down to Styx

made up of the same murky

spit of a thousand other sinners

who thought their creed

was special.

.

And say I do collect this drool

in little vials,

I guess I could soak it into a towel

the way someone soaked

sour wine to quench

Christ’s last breaths,

say I do it,

all that remains is

the chunks of tobacco

that weren’t caught

by the flaccid filter

and the taste of

Gethsemane’s dew

which is flavored

like the kind of breath

when I wake up

in the middle of the night,

hands over my face,

and scream

what have I done?

.

I never felt like beloved John

or Peter in his denying,

but I am afraid to say

I would have been

Judas

swinging

illuminated by the glint

of thirty silver coins.


© Copyright 2018 Patrick Montanaro. All rights reserved.

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