All night the bibles burned and bled
in the seminary of the moon.
In the surf below, a face rose
from foam: sodium and sand
brought forth into flesh, a thimble
of salt and grime standing
in the form of a man. He stepped
into the night air, the orchid on his lapel
collapsing into dry wreckage.
He walked into your hometown
and slit your father’s throat
with a salty razor. He fucked your sister
senseless with a hot poker and left
her clothing strewn in the town’s back alleys.
Then he wrote notes confessing
everything in your handwriting.
The next night he appeared
on television, speaking his language
of sacred generalities. He came
into your mother’s home, made her
his whore and watched
as she went down on the world for him.
We watch with our glass eyes
while he massages our minds
with his hidden script. He recruits
first this one, then that one…
Your brother today, my son the next.
Secretly, they all want to sing
the anthem of the hot poker,
the holy aria of the wages of sin.
Vernon Fowlkes, Jr. is the author of the poetry collection The Sound of Falling (Negative Capability Press, 2013). His work has been published widely in various literary publications, including The Southern Review, The Texas Observer, Willow Springs, Elk River Review, and Birmingham Arts Journal.