this morning’s poem

Alpha Zulu
by Gary Lilley

I know more people dead than people alive,
my insomniac answer to self-addressed prayers

is that in the small hours even God drinks alone.
My self-portrait; gray locks in the beard, red eyes

burning back in the mirror, the truths of grooves
and nicks on my face, one missing tooth.

I’m a man who’s gathered too many addresses,
too many goodbyes. There’s not much money

or time left to keep on subtracting from my life.
Except for needs I can pack everything I have

into my old black sea-bag. To all the bloods
I’ll raise a bourbon, plant my elbow on the bar

and drink to the odds that one more shot
won’t have me wearing a suit of blues.

I’m so exposed, with you all of me is at risk,
and if that’s only one side of being in love

that’s the one deep down that proves it.
Here you are sleeping with me, narcotic as night,

naked as an open hand, and the skinny of it is,
what makes you think I am afraid of this

when I once lived in a cave, moss on the cold wall,
all my bones scattered across the floor.

Modern Day Jesus Song

Alive am I in you; you alive in me; we alive in we—
prayers you hear and sometimes do not answer.

Alone, a lonely hawk on wire bobbing rhythmically
eyes searching for food. You take care of these. Too. It feels like instead.

Grooves carved in pain and sweat, sweet anguish, a
tooth clicked, cheek sucked, knocked to ground. One less.

Addresses, envelopes. Envelope me in your greedy, ready,

money laundering. Send money but don’t write. It is only

life after all. Lived long without much food. Poverty. The poor
have social services to live by. Turn the other fat cheek and chew.

Bloods dripping diseases. Famine distending bellies. Apathy. Coffee

bar slips our drinks and we go crazy. One shot? I said two. Add one

shot, and the blood pours for diamonds, clothes, shoes and we sing the

blues over spilled milk. A man sits cold, on the corner. And we

risk nothing. Seven cloaks in the closet. Demons. Skeletons. But

love? Greater love has no man than to lay down his life (or give a coat).

It is finished. But the world turns on, turns off, turns on again.
Night turns. Day turns. We turn away. Insular. Isolated.

Is this what love is? Do they know us by our love?
This is what love has become. They know us by our latte, our full closet.

Walls built keeping out the vagrancy, degeneracy, otheracy, only me you see.

Floor-ed. Cross-ed. Double cross-ed. You and me. Not you and we.

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