by Daniel Edward Moore
Baptized in the church of Pygmy rattler fangs
hanging from my foot like prayer bells in Tibet,
the water, I submit, was cold and confidential,
a lesson from the gospel of drown me Lord quick.
Obedient and skilled at the gestures of deliverance,
those hands knew how to shake and bring down fire.
Clouds of smoke crossed my eyes
from yards ablaze in Selma, then floated
to St. Petersburg where ash found a home.
Daddy’s letters from Saigon proved a man still loved me.
I sucked the envelopes of air and kissed him
on the stamps. Momma’s little boy became
a man with freckles, a buzz-cut adolescent
with apocalyptic leanings. Thinking Arsenic
must be sugar’s evil twin, I tried to poison her
with Sweet and Low, but only made her kinder.
Thus began my interest in pink bags with powder,
a way to live with lightning without the coming storm.
Walking on the wild side to a land of naked strangers,
this novice of the night mistook daylight for the devil.
Many years would pass before the cushion and my mind
had covert conversations about the here and now.
I remember when they started, where I was,
and what we said. It’s why a candle burns
on the altar of my flesh, swaying back and forth
between the wounds and wonder.