Poetry Week: After Tom Waits

What need have I of Christ

When I crucify myself each night

Under the billows of smoke

The lipstick ashtrays the putrid musk

Of table dancers and their gawping answers

Of mottled eye candy and its tender threat?

I’ll beard them with my friendly growl

All dust, bone and entrail.

I’ll bid them hear the lurch

Of my ravelled heart.

I sing with my liver

I pray out of mangled lips

My stage is my crucifix

My cancer is your cure.

I mock hell with my dead man’s laugh

It mocks me back with song.

Till I try anew with madness

Howling into wires a mangy dog of love

Making a name for the horrified rage

That each turn of the planet exhales

Sends creeping through space like sperm

In search of its gawping answer.

I hang on platforms

And half-real street corners

Never going anywhere

For everywhere is here.

Till it’s time to mount my cross again

And bleed raw bone to ether

My rasping whisper of love.

And from inside my nimbus

Of company, smoke and death,

I seem to dream a question:

Are you man enough for me?

Am I real enough for you?

 

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