God in Every Junk Yard Solo

A stained glass membrane

Filters feminine choral voices

From a medieval chamber.

I wait in the vestibule

For an anointing.

Those with flowing blonde hair

Hiding cassock and stole

Enter first

Then lugging golden bowels

The washers of feet

And finally legions of young virgins

In communion dress.

The holy door is neither

Open nor closed

So I must begin

The ritual again.

Outside the carnage:

Amputees, lepers and whores

Some on rollers

Supporting their stumps

Some wiggling ground level

Through urban filth

As if crawling out of the earth.

All jealously guard offerings

Taken from the town dump

And spread over oil-stained rags —

Bits of shattered eyewear glass

Coke and Pepsi bottle tops

Plastic necklace beads

Blue and green paper stars

Wedding confetti

Coins from every nation on earth

Sprinkled on top of the gifts,

Each display varied and particular

Arranged in a crude circle

In the shadow of the holy place.

I wait for the begging hands

The mutterings of the infirm

The tugging of the legless at my trouser cuffs

The ritual stumblings of the blind

The one-penny thunder in the orphan’s cup

The sister traded over into sin.

Not a word

Just the dry-channel

Pull of a man’s stump

Conducting his circular prayer

Around his junk yard altar,

A tribute slow and painful

Enough to be repeated

By those of us

Just learning to walk.

From the upcoming novel Chanting the Feminine Down,

James C. McCullagh

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