The Place of Skulls (poems from old notebooks, 1998 or ’99)

Can’t figure out exactly when I wrote this, though I can clearly recall smirking a lot while doing so. I’ve since pilfered at least one image from it to use variations of in other poems. Ghazal for Mary Magdalene is probably the best of those others, and it appears on the Mumbling Jack album.

The Place of Skulls

I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

—Psalms 22:14 -15

I
Wonderful, this dust, how it flows
around my feet. Almost liquid,
and hot. It could be water;
see, with each step, a steam
reddens my ankles

Ah, Peter,
you did not shatter. The rock you are
behaved only as it could.
There are no shattered beliefs; truth spreads
wide enough to encompass anything.*

* or: the legs of faith spread / wide enough for all.

Ah, Peter,
Simon Peter, have you seen
what I showed you? Knowledge
passes quickly—this dust, Peter, and water are
as you must be.

See, how this wood?
this rough-hewn and crude cross?
though it bruises my shoulders
and writes its weight in splinters in my skin,
leaves only a brief trail in the dust?

The dust returns behind it
as everything returns to dust.
As I, temporary as a temple, will return
to dust.

II
Ah, heavy, heavy, heavy this wood
And, Peter, were you here
now to offer to bear it,
what would I reply, I wonder?

What would I answer, now,
as the way steepens and the dust thins?

III
The stony hill approaches.

Have I stopped, I wonder, in despair?
Does the place of bones and skulls
come to me now?

Perhaps
these things, once started, will finish
whether all are willing, or not.

IV
Never
have I seen such a sky as this one which looms
and fits itself to this place; it grows like flesh
around the crosses on the hill.

But
once, while becalmed on the Sea of Galilee,
my hands raw from casting nets, I rested,
and the surface of the Sea seemed tight
as the skin of a woman’s belly stretched with child.

And I thought if I threw another net
I would waken such a drum
as would pound the Earth apart with its music.

V
And still the hill moves slyly under me.

Rocking side to side,
it makes my legs appear to walk.

And me to climb willingly
to death.

If this moment before death invests
in me a voice to speak and be heard,
then I say :

every sun will set on skulls and bones
and this dust will blow forever

About John MacKenzie

I'll mumble for ya. Poetry, plus most things quantifiable: science, neuroscience, memory, epistemology, baseball. And so on.
This entry was posted in Art is lies, Atheism, Death, John MacKenzie, Mumbling Jack, album, Poem tweets, Poems from old notebooks, Poetry, Process, Religion, The Sea and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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