John Hogan: "Thurifer"




The body, bereft of freight, is a wax mold

still warmed from bluest green-flame gone out.


Opacity, gold harp, pasted wings—

Borders become boundaries. Your boys


pitch neon nylon tents in your basement, whisper

ghost stories through the night. They did not see


the chrome-red of your wig which buckled

inside of me a longing for human detail. I fling


words into sky and it is as though some unnatural

force halts their head-heavy plunge into earth.


The priest swings scentless incense, dangles before

our mouths bread which is body which is bread.


My mother—puffy-lidded, doe-eyed—lays

her hands on my cousin’s face. She cannot cauterize


the grief, his heart—restless as the flycatcher’s

scissor-grinding call, as the choo choo revved


too hard to round the bend, as our hands dragged

through your headstone’s grooves—wrestles for you.



John Hogan's poems have appeared in Boston Review, Colorado Review, Verse, and other places.