Web Prayer for Milosz

- 1953-
From euphoria at the blossom's destruction

                   *

in time-lapse, save us. We quicken & hiss like serpents,

                   *

our tongues flick us forward. We are studies of peritonitis

                   *

at the U.S. Forensic Death Farm in Tennessee. From the stunned

                   *

half-smiles of the decomposed, we rise. A dwarf inflates

                   *

to a giant, bloated like a Macy's float. The corpse

                   *

is arranged in Holding Area 232a: the effects

                   *

of assault rifle fire have been digitally photographed

                   *

for the muse to download for this page, an aggregate of signs

                   *

that I have fashioned with her aid. Tell me

                   *

to what end, o master. Without you words are pure convention.

                   *

Show me where the soul clings on, the Ineffable Name.

                   *

The language of the old belief, has it perished?

                   *

Keystroke, rictus, click, contusion: the apparitions gather like breath.

More by David Wojahn

Spirit Cabinet [excerpt]

. . . 

& how, o spirits, shall I invoke you, who cannot count himself
    among the chosen?
My writings & keenings are interior & treated by appropriate
    prescription drugs,

to whom my conversion is incomplete, for some days I devote myself
    solely to my dead
& in my error I do seek them & do wail. From the wire mesh
    I glimpse the chalk marks,

aflicker on a kind of slate. Here is the glyph of patchouli-smell,
    graven on a scarf
or silken dress. & here the character for a chin nicked while shaving,
    stubble edging a dime-sized birthmark,

. . . 

Sawdust

Coming always from below, blade wail & its pungency

          *

laddering up toward my childhood room, my nostrils

          *

sick-sweet with it. Below he worked his grave machines,

          *

tintinnabulous their whirr & snarl.

          *

His face in sawdust spray: sweat beads

          *

nacreous & a pollen lather, canary yellow.

          *

Resinous the wood where he’s entombed.

          *

Resinous the wood, who rises spectra

          *

this morning with the saber saws, churning the house

          *

they’re building down the street below my study,

          *

latticework beams. Sawdust visage flaring, ceremonial mask

          *

lifted down from the ill-lit gallery

          *

& placed by him upon my face. Eye-slits for sight,

          *

bright gash for speech, two raw nail holes for scent.