Good Friday (1996)


Ah, crime! he exclaimed, our stubborn stubby-fingered

innkeeper, our fellow now too, since early evening

and a quarter way into the bottle; for his flapping windsock

of a heart, if for no other grace, Lord bless him, amen!

And yet, he would just as surely have served his epithet

and the truth, if he bellowed,


Ah, time! And begging your pardons, sirs, every one,

sentences are spoken, justice is slowly granted,

and order must be in the world, no question there.

And yet, it is a horror and a howling abomination,

if I may be so plain in my speech, meaning no insult,

that a man's life is a capsule hoisted into the air,

that is pinched at both ends, that is ragged along the seam,

that peaks on a singular promontory, alone,

though spectators thronged all about, smirking, every one:

some in mirth openly, who dabbed his lips with gall,

while others spread expensive handkerchiefs

before their ostentatious sniffles, as though

black lace might conceal the peeled-back primate teeth;

but they are all sweating and wetting themselves for relief

that their own experience has just once more,

just this once more enveloped yet another's,

and thinking solid reasons why it should not,

why it could not ever have been reversed that day.


The end, which is so material only for him,

that he thrashes his leathery sacks like downdrafted wings

against the partitioning membrane; it yields slightly,

only a nudge to the most grievous contortions.

The other side is silence, untouched and dry.