V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





On the sidewalk leading to the chapel, not yet discovered,
Three slaughtered goats lie in a triangle.

The knife that slit their throats has danced into a snow pile.
Magpies make a ceremonial swoop over the carcasses.

Cover your ears, it's cold. We're going with the search party,
Scant hope of finding the missing children.

Look, their bodies appear in brambles, bruised and beaten÷
A winter's mirage, snow blindness. Pass on.

Lucifer is the groundskeeper in his bib overalls. He grins
From the bed of the pick-up, selecting the proper spade.

Here comes the altar boy, up early; he's the one
Who will come across the goats and run off panting mist.

After the sleet the buildings grow an epidermis of ice.
The groundskeeper's radio plays Agnus Dei.

The magpies dig in, their beaks begin 
With the eyes and genitalia.

The search party comes across footprints near the transformer.
Electricity hums through the wires.

Classes begin in fluorescent rooms. Teachers take the offering
And lead fervent prayers against disease and Moscow.

Candles give off colored smoke. The groundskeeper appears
In a cassock humming, Do you see what I see?

The goats rise to attend him. A thousand magpies cackle up,
Black bullets, into the snow-white sky.

The groundskeeper snips a wire. The search party sees
A shower of sparks fall from the transformer.

The day goes dark, and now shadowy forms rise into the swirling
Snow, a loud host proclaiming Glory to His Name.

© by Stephen Benz


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