I’ve been writing poetry since I was eight. Nobody liked any of it until I was forty-one. I still don’t know what that’s all about, but I appreciate it.
Sorry For Punching You When You Were Jesus
(from Apologies) Look, I get carried away and I’m really sorry, but I was playing a Roman soldier, and you were playing Jesus, and I’m committed to my role—aren’t you? Sorry, that sounds like an accusation, and this is supposed to be an apology, a formal, sincere apology from me to you because when I pretended to hammer a nail into your Jesus-hand, I swung too hard and punched your arm and I didn’t stop the skit to see if you were OK. I gave you a dirty look because I’m a Roman soldier, and a Roman soldier wouldn’t care if he punched Jesus, but you’re not Jesus, except when you are, and I’m not a soldier, except when I am. Look, I really am sorry. I should have stopped the skit, but it was our church’s anniversary and I didn’t want to disappoint all the sweaty August bodies compressed in our pews, and that boy asked me earlier how I’d broken my nose, when I’ve never broken my nose, and I thought his stare meant I’m pretty, but it meant he thinks I’m scrappy, like the kind of soldier who’d punch a god, but you’re not a god, you’re another boy who stares. Sorry, that’s another accusation. I’m not good at apologizing, and I’m not good at being stared at, or stopping to assess the damage while the play’s still going because I’m committed to my role, and I’m committed to you, and I promise not to punch you when you’re Jesus, unless everyone’s watching and I’m still in my soldier’s clothes.
Untitled (from Apologies)
The day I turned eighteen I bought a pack of Marlboro Reds— The Fellowship Hall was empty and God wasn’t watching wispy smoke snaking out a cracked window of a church he’d never heard of