Poetry from AGNI, Web Issue 3


    Just Spring

    The teenage boys who broke into
    Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
    to graffiti their new vocabulary
    of swear words on the white white walls
    were attracted enough by the church, at least,
    to vandalize it.

    They broke the virgin's plaster nose
    with baseball bats
    and marked her private parts with orange spray paint
    because they loved their mothers so much
    it was killing them,

    but they left the gaunt, adolescent torso of Jesus
    hanging on the wall, untouched,
    because they didn't recognize themselves.

    Or maybe it's just Spring
    which drives more birds and flowers crazy.

    Desire, someone says,
    polishing his turbo-charged Camaro in the drive,
    running his hand over its curves,

    it's a bitch.
    The blurred blue letters of the name Dianne
    scorched into his forearm
    record a season in his life
    he probably regrets,

    but desire, if you don't let it out, everybody knows
    backs up and poisons you inside
    like old sap clogged inside a tree

    or like the hard line of JoAnn's mouth
    when she said,
    speaking of her first and recently demolished marriage,
    Never Again,

    gripping the steering wheel with both hands
    and jamming the gas pedal
    down into the floor,

    though she probably still wants
    to be followed, pulled over,
    taken from her car and carried off
    into the heavenly tall grass
    of heterosexual imagination,

    then kissed all over her thirty-nine-year old body
    until, like Spring,
    she comes and comes and comes.
    Suffering Mother of God. Sweet Jesus.


    When the medication she was taking
    caused tiny vessels in her face to break,
    leaving faint but permanent blue stitches in her cheeks,
    my sister said she knew she would
    never be beautiful again.

    After all those years
    of watching her reflection in the mirror,
    sucking in her stomach and standing straight,
    she said it was a relief,
    being done with beauty,

    but I could see her pause inside that moment
    as the knowledge spread across her face
    with a fine distress, sucking
    the peach out of her lips,
    making her cute nose seem, for the first time,
    a little knobby.

    I'm probably the only one in the whole world
    who actually remembers the year in high school
    she perfected the art
    of being a dumb blond,

    spending recess on the breezeway by the physics lab,
    tossing her hair and laughing that canary trill
    that was her specialty,

    while some football player named Johnny
    with a pained expression in his eyes
    wrapped his thick finger over and over again
    in the bedspring of one of those pale curls.

    Or how she spent the next decade of her life
    auditioning a series of tall men
    looking for just one with the kind of
    attention span she could count on.

    Then one day her time of prettiness was done,
    and all those other beautiful women
    in the magazines and on the streets
    just kept on being beautiful
    everywhere you looked,

    walking in that kind of elegant, disinterested trance
    in which you sense they always have one hand
    touching the secret place
    that keeps their beauty safe,
    inhaling and exhaling the perfume of it.

    It was spring. Season when the young
    buttercups and daisies climb up on the
    mulched bodies of their forebears
    to wave their flags in the parade.

    My sister just stood still for thirty seconds,
    amazed about the way that things can go,
    then shrugged and tossed her shaggy head
    as if she was throwing something out,

    something she had carried a long ways
    but had no use for anymore,
    now that it had no use for her.
    That, too, was beautiful.