The Rectangle

A jungle gym, a see-saw, and a patch
of sand have snipped a corner from St. Paul's
parking lot. The wheelchair ramp is new;
phlox now crowds the walk. Behind a yawn
of double doors, the floors are fresh-swept green;

thrown out, the squares of burgundy and tan
scuffed up by hundreds of schoolchildren's shoes
in lines of two. In this fluorescent light,
the Virgin Mary with her chipped half-smile
looks out of place, like a museum piece.

A sense of something missing haunts the hall.
It throws a shadow, though it has no mass —
its presence real, its color black, its shape
rectangular, behind the trophy case,
where Father Geoghan's portrait used to hang.

first appeared in Anon
Doré's Engravings

The leaves are dry and yellow, edged with brown,
in the Forest of the Suicides. One soul
bares his knothole-navel, while his neck
grows down, a tuberous root, into the hard
unholy ground:

                         Mr. Potato Head,
my brother says. Following his lead,
I laugh with him, pretending to be brave
or pitiless, uncertain which is which.
(In Hell, the difference doesn't matter much.)

Harpies — with claws, human heads, crows' wings
and women's breasts — alight on limbs to eat
the leaves of trees that moan aloud and bleed;

feet protrude from smoking wells, intestines
dangle from a stomach wound, lopped limbs
fester perpetually for finite sins;

while bathed in love-light, angels tra-la-la
and beam as sinners scream. Then, at the end,
the wingèd creatures swarm in corkscrew form,

spiraling up to God. But Tommy says
they're swirling down the toilet; and, being ten,
he makes a farting noise, and says amen.

first appeared in Shit Creek Review