On the Cathedral Lawn, Houston, TX

by Bryan Owens


Where we sat
is too far to visit now
& all my friends have left or died

besides, a flight
to take a nostalgia walk
is ungodly airfare

which sounds like I mean
god is cheap, which
you’re goddamn right

god is cheap
and loves the poor
like us

on the cathedral lawn
in iron chairs
making poems for the night

full of memory and air.

The church was never ours
to begin with, anyway
then the father locked the building

at sundown
when the doors shut behind him
with a boom.

We sat silent
as he scrolled the day’s outrage
looking for signs of god

in his palm
even as he reached the door
to his Camry

and then was gone.

Something about our hands
couldn’t help themselves
stirring the wind between us

like the night was a cauldron
& we the spoons
or the ingredients of darkness

eyes tongue heart & words!

as the filaments in streetlamps
came alive like fireflies
to oversee traffic’s traveling whispers

and the lights of the church
did come on too
as guards to the lawn

and charmers to the stained glass
the rigid glinting sorrow of saints
who lift their hands in worship

to their gory lord
skin white as lightbulb glass
stained with rubied salt.

And here now
these poems bring all back
my friends from the dead

their poems whose words reversed
the course of blood on the brow
turned the skin to amber

and if you fail to change, then ask
what happens with you now
as the blood forgets its gravity

runs back to the crown
dismembering centuries of worshipped
murder

as though the killing justified
& paid for itself
because of his alleged perfection.

Let us allow our own crowns
to melt like ice from rooftops
to stream like cold regret

down the alley
and clean our memory
with new remembrance.

Lift the man from our history
of wooden hate
like a child from a high chair

tired & satisfied of hunger
take him into our arms
to the upstairs bedroom

all whose arms still are open
as the lights flicker
and then fade

in the daylight.


Bryan Buchanan Owens holds an MFA from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. His work aims at the democratization of mental health care and his poems strive for the kind of clear thinking which may help us experience poetry and life more richly. His work has appeared in New Ohio Review, San Pedro River Review, The New Writers Series Anthology, Grist, Poetry Quarterly, Boston Poetry Magazine, Inscape, Primitive, The Centrifugal Eye, NANO Fiction, and elsewhere. He is a writer and teacher living in Indianapolis.

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