Angelus of mercy,
Al was the Pope
walking through the squalor
of an unfeeling world –
yes, sometimes, numbed by his stuff,
he floated among the giddy children
bestowing vials of mercy,
brittle vials of mercy for the pain.
At first it was not the money,
just a simple act of revolution;
a way to stir the darkness
of defeated descendants of slaves
to something more volatile,
something like the bebop madness
of Miles, Coltrane, or the crazy
dreamings of Monk the magician,
something that would make
the bossman sleep uneasy at night,
with gun loaded beneath his pillow,
his daughters strapped to their beds
for fear they might catch wind
of this jazz in the air
and go low riding
near the barracks.
It was this at first,
this way to liven the drabness
of nothing lives,
this merciful act
that got him in the business.
But missionary work is fleeting,
and the money became the cause,
what with babies coming from his scrotum
and the pittance from the bossman
not making ends meet; and the thugs
in New York looking for expansion
into the slumbering South.
So, Al, the Pope of Hog Town,
donned his missal and issued
his mercy, for a price,
a simple indulgence of gratitude
while the jazz grew slow and mute
and the brothers floated through their dreams
not touching earth, not touching nothing
on their path through the trees.
And Al prospered
before the Lord.
Even at night, laid out like in a coffin,
he can’t sleep for the evil in his heart,
he is weaving baskets to catch fish
swimming home in fish water,
that is the sinfulness of the wicked;
so that his wife does not know
why he turns and turns all night
mouth muttering like there are pebbles in his heart.
There is an oracle in my heart
tells me to speak like this;
but I am not a prophet, just a player
of songs, a lyrics man, and two sacs
of seed, blessed seed to spawn a generation
of miracle makers, mine is to plough the earth.
plant my seed, and then like some specimen
of insect, become one with the mist.
But I know the wicked man and his path,
know his causal machinations that seem
so gloriously brilliant in their diabolic wit
here in the light of day. But who would
guess the planning he does deep in the night
tossing on the fetid damp of his sepulchral sheets?
For a thirsting man caught here, stranded
late at night between two dry hills,
my prayers answered are like sweet waters,
and the passing of fear – fear of the drawn gun
ready to spit senselessly my simple brains
on this cooking tarmac; fear of the old ghosts
arising from the sea with their unknowable
anger, ready to strike me dumb, dry my seed;
the passing of this fear brings such cool
and the sound of wings, gigantic wings
flapping such cool calming breezes to my soul;
this is the love of heaven.
Few songs but the tried and proven
hymnals of majestic patience can
sing the grandness of my gratitude
in these dark times. Continue your wash
of love for my seed and their seed,
bring stones to shatter the blundering toes
of my enemies, and may the heart of the sweating
evil man, seeping all that pig fat,
fall so sudden with startle and dread,
never to rise again, never to rise again.