BLOOD COMING OUT OF MY WHEREVER

—for Donald J. Trump
Yes I've got blood coming out of my Wherever 
and my patience has gone thin. You see
I'm using up my extra wattage to tap into
the Oracle, The Goddess. I am Athena the owl
on my perch, swiveling my head, no longer
watching you; I just can't even.

Yes I've got blood coming out of my Wherever,
that portal to the place where souls come through
and I know why you fear it, I have magic much
stronger than you, I have dreams and spells
men once knew and they revered us;
that time will come again

because time is labyrinthine, not linear
that's why you feel so lost, strangled
by hedgerows and hedge funds and artful deals.
You think that you control things but you're
a toddler run away from his Mum, kicking
other children's castles into the surf

and I have blood coming out of my Wherever
like the tide, the power of celestial bodies echoes
in my womb. I don't blame you for being jealous,
but you couldn't handle this kind of power, that much
is obvious. I've got Kali on speed dial, I've got friends
in high places, higher than you.

HIGH SUMMER

leaves droop from trees 
the sky droops from branches 
like a white sheet 
to hold the locusts in 
their buzzsaw whine 
a blaze of sound 

july is god's forge, god's 
hammer coming down 
again and again, stupefyingly 
hot at seven o'clock 
the heat its own kind of sound 
a swarm upon my skin 
july is sumo wrestling with the sun 
belly to belly we stomp 
and sweat and shout 
the sun always wins 

the birds slump and pant 
too hot to chase the 
screaming insects 
even the wind 
dries out, curls up panting 
in the woodpile 
with the snakes. 


WHAT IF

what if all the kids stayed home from school 
and went outside to play instead 

what if we put down our phones and used our hands 
to make a meal a tool a basket 

what if we stopped using plastic 
what if everybody took a nap 

what if we lived in one big house together 
and no one felt the sting of lack 

we'd sit together in the evening throwing bones
we'd say poems and sing and pass the jug and dance 

once upon a time we knew what we were doing 
our gods had faces and were our masters 

not other men. now we spit in invective in our masks 
distrustful, withholding--but what if we went back

who knows the way speak up if you remember 
a story we once told about the stars. 

MAY TWELFTH

After the muggers don't kill me I go to the all-night diner
and order eggs. I order chocolate chip pancakes. I order

sausage and bacon and beer because eating and drinking
is what alive-people do. There's no ordinary time 

in New Orleans, it's always some high holy day. Someone's
always dancing wearing crimson velvet screaming in the streets

some dark Vapor's always seething in the storm drains
and someone is always eating pancakes in wonderment, alive

to the flour and sugar and grease, amazed by the cracked vinyl
seat: this banquette is a pew, the hiss of the griddle an endless

sigh of relief—and tonight it's me. The other diners' faces 
placid as plaster saints, oblivious to the first supper

of my second life. I tell the waitress thinking maybe she will
cross herself or drop down on her knees, high priestess of the plate

I've cleaned—but she doesn't even raise an eyebrow as she slips
the bill beneath my bottle and says welcome to New Orleans. 

PRAYER FOR THE KING OF THE MOUNTAIN

once upon a time you shoved the girls 
you shoved the other boys / you shoved 
the dreamer in the outfield / picking flowers 

now you stand atop a tower with your hands 
on your hips / bellowing orders / you were made 
for this / you are a man / behold your necktie 

your cammo cargo shorts / emperor of a rubble heap 
believing you can pass decrees / you are nothing
but a schoolyard bully all grown up / and I invoke 

a roaring Mother grizzly bear against you / Goddess 
made of fur and teeth and no you don't motherfucker /  
may she tower over you / and blot out the sun 

may you curl into a ball at Her feet / trembling / may you
eat your threats and slurs like clots of earth / may they grind 
between your teeth / o Bear Woman protect Your daughter-sons 

and daughters / from dick-slinging bigots and assholes with rifles /
swat them from their mounds / turn them into boys again 
and send them home knees scraped and weeping / to Mother. 

E. D. Watson 

Holy Week, Schmoly Week

It’s Holy Week but it doesn’t feel that way. Lent hasn’t felt like Lent, either. I’ve made and eaten a lot of cake. I’ve had wine in the middle of the week. I’ve slept late almost every day, and went for days at a time without meditating.

It’s weird, but back in February, when I was trying determine what I would give up for lent, I kept coming up against a big blank. I tried to give up coffee because that seemed sufficiently painful—and I lasted exactly three days. Now I think I must have been intuiting how bad things would get without any help from my lack of caffeine.

I find myself reminiscing about Holy Week back in my Orthodox days. Those who could went to church every single day. It was a hassle, but the church-nerd in me loved it. On Good Friday alone there were three different services to commemorate distinct events Christ’s sentencing and crucifixion. The services were exceedingly sad and somber, but in between there was an undercurrent of camaraderie and joy. Using fresh greenery and real roses, the women would clean and decorate the bier. Downstairs, people were boiling and dying red eggs for Pascha.

I miss those days. Those ancient songs and rituals connected me to a lineage of countless faithful (and unfaithful) believers. It comforted me to press my body into those familiar postures of veneration, to prostrate myself or kiss an icon or tip my head back for a spoonful of warm wine during Eucharist.

Now I watch the priests on Facebook, lofting the host above the altar like a tiny moon, breaking it for an empty church. Only the dead are there, in the columbarium. At home, my partner and I exchange Ritz crackers and sip the dregs from a bottle of Chianti.

What’s the deal with church anyway? What’s the point? I’ve been asking myself for years and can never get a straight answer from myself. It is for structure? For an aesthetic experience? For a collective in which I can share and examine my particular experience with God? For me it’s all these things and more. It’s also less. By which I mean, it’s simpler than any of that: I go because I’m drawn to it. I love church—Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish—I love it all, as long as no one hands me a live snake.

I miss St. Mark’s. I miss standing and kneeling for liturgy. I miss reading Psalms from the lectern. I miss exchanging the peace with real handshakes and hugs. I miss the smiles now concealed behind masks.

I miss the holy water font and the colored stones in its basin.

I miss the way the light is all golden in the sacristy and yet cool and blue as it falls over the pews. I miss the reassuring flicker of the red votive above the small door where they keep the goods. I miss how some of the prayer books are new and stiff and creaky, and some flop open, exposing their spine-flesh. And because I don’t have a prayer book of my own, I miss the prayers themselves.

Somehow I suspect Sunday isn’t going to feel like Easter. I can put on my Easter dress (instead of yoga pants) for some #quarantine photos, I can roast a chicken and bake (another) cake. I probably will.

I will probably remind myself that faithful people have endured worse than this, that our church hasn’t been bombed, it’s just shuttered for a while. That feasting can be an act of hope and defiance. I’ll probably light a candle for you, whoever you are. Light one for me, too.

RAIN PSALM

take your shoes off     go outside 
tip your face toward the sky 
feel the cold clean droplets 
streak your chin           and cheeks

this blessing is called rain 

let it in             go to the end of the path 
where it gathers inches deep 
follow your feet in      let them recall 
the child        to whom they once belonged 

let the water    wrap its thumbs and fingers round 
your ankles      silver circlets               let them hold you there 
let the mud settle       in the crescent of each toe      listen 

the trees are praying 

kneel and lift a drowning worm from the puddle 
behold the string         of blood within              a single vein 
remember when the world fit in your hand 

remember not all blessings fall the same

HERMIT PSALM

I keep thinking how if I were a hermit-monk
I wouldn't know a thing had changed

not unless an angel came and told me: pray
for night has fallen at midday--

if I lived alone atop a mountain, with only
wind and stone and sky, everything 

would be the same. I wouldn't feel the weight 
of this sudden brotherhood of novices 

wouldn't hear them pacing in their cells at night, 
groaning and not sleeping. All my life I wanted silence, 

space. Now cries crowd my ears, suddenly my cave 
feels like a cage, I want to rush down into someone's arms

suddenly I see that I am bleeding. All my life I thought 
if no one touched me I'd be safe; suddenly I don't believe it. 

EASY RIDERS

come for supper my dad says, he's grilling 
I say we're supposed to stay inside 

you're not sick he tells me 
and neither am I, come have a burger 

some fries, some laughs, let's roll 
our eyes -- and maybe he's right 

there's nothing to fear, his generation 
invented rebellion, invented barefoot 

invented protest signs gave their middle 
fingers to the old man in the white house 

and the sky -- where is your spirit he asks 
without asking I feel the disappointment 

like feathers in my lungs, the itch 
before a coughing spell -- how can it be 

he raised me to obey some faceless They 
there were no bathrooms at Woodstock and 

everyone was high they lived into a legend 
braided hope and daisies in their hair and 

how I wish the world they made was made to last 
and only doctors wore the masks

E. D. Watson

REQUIEM FOR BURR CLOVER

I rip them up by the roots, they are the only plants 
I hate though to be honest it's mostly because 
I need an excuse to put my phone away. I am weary 

of the virus, the clean hands they tell us to maintain 
I want black half-moons beneath my nails, I want 
my arms and legs to ache from exertion, not from fever 

from improvements I can measure, each square foot 
without burr clover a victory I can stand inside and 
celebrate. Everything seems okay outside, bees hover 

in the lemon tree, lovesick wrens weave nests 
in the eaves, earthworms slick the clot of soil 
I've torn free. Only the burr clover weeps. 

I try to stop my ears, to justify the genocide: it's my 
yard and you'll take over, I tell them. Your burrs lodge 
in my cat's tail. You choke the flowers, you're ugly 

you have no medicine to offer me. But I see the plant's 
tenacity, the star-sprawl of its open arms, ingenious 
coils, corona of hooks on each burr, tender leaves of three.   

Angel of death pass over, the clover pleads. We drink 
rain and eat sun same as anything, anyone.  What can
you know of medicine? Life is more than seed. 

E. D. Watson