March 16, 2016KR OnlinePoetry

Saint Longinus; For Instance: I Am Beautiful

Saint Longinus

I plan to be traditional says the woman on the billboard
standing in the disused gravel lot before
the shuttered GE plant, she’s late-sixties, prim,
well-kept, short hair, glasses, I mean
sensible, someone who says Just let ’em all
kill each other
as did M at church
talking bout those gun-happy bangers, town’s
south side, this was at a meeting to baptize
the younger daughter, ha-ha M laughed
because she’s white and I’m white and all
the older daughter knows of Jesus is he’s
got hurt hands and feet and a cut
on his side, here she points to her body
where she hopes no centurion will pierce her
as she’s crucified, the billboard’s
for a funeral home because, like most things, death
needs no ads but what we do
about it does, and the traditional
American drink of them is among the cups
I most wish to pass from both daughters’ lips, them
so darkly simplistic, like a tribe we need
to believe is out there in a pristine jungle
with no word for glasses or salvation
waiting for us to breeze enlighteningly in
with smartphones and funeral plans, ways
to be alive in the shadows of buildings
where toasters and washer-dryers once
tumbled out in clatterings we grew
so used to hearing we believed it our
authentic music, ignoring the bass notes
that thrummed which side of the street
was one color, which the other, I plan
to be traditional by doing whatever
dirty work’s required to make these
white hands not seem gloved, by an ease
it’s so easy to believe I earned by
being nothing more than the pink
traditional result of the business death
either went into, business because of
or founded.

For Instance: I Am Beautiful

Every lie is bread I wish to eat
with teeth I can’t afford, lost, had
knocked out some dim night ages
back before whispering the number
of stars we’d seen filled the fire
lit nights and recollection became
each day’s end’s great game, and then
we whisper backwards into
misremembering how it was, what
that breathing + being meant + some
mornings I wake still liquid, sure
my life’s a too-glad flimsiness
already slipping quick from
my barbarity. Every song I know
is called The silver in my teeth means
I couldn’t stop at sweetness
and I still
can’t stop, the singing or sweet-
ness, isn’t it funny the bread
rising angelic no matter who
eats it, how I can’t recall what
it once was I so longed to
suffer for, funny how the lie
you most wish to eat can be any
-thing—love, a clear glimpse
of history, the name of whatever
odd star you find yourself
pointing toward now, suddenly,
so far from where you’re sure
you always were heading.

Weston Cutter is from Minnesota and is the author of the story collection You'd Be a Stranger, Too, and several chapbooks including All Black Everything and Enough.