David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
biblicalfictions.com
Poetry for the Curious across the Religious Spectrum
Hothouse Lyrics

     {from Autumn in the Hothouse} 

 

 

 

 MADONNA

 MADONNA

 

 

She is calm now, relatively calm,

Delicate weave of fingers

At psychotic vision,

As if these images are gentle, relenting.

 

I see her in the evening slant of light,

Powdered, blue, on the bare torso.

 

She is Botticelli's Madonna,

Yet leaner, the breasts too nearly young,

Disturbingly comely,

Delicate profile and the quivering lips.

 

I find myself staring, curiously aroused,

And yet I have lifted her, neck

And hooked leg, stool-packed groin,

Shrieking into that same maiden's bed.

 

In this light I could be her lover,

The parson she rejected in a guarded moment

Fifty years ago.

 

She must have been striking,

Christ eyes like Emily Dickinson.

 

Could he see her now in this forgiving light,

Or the starker meat

That soils itself,

Chanting like Baptist demiurge, that apparition?

 

How kind that I have less faith to lose.

 

                                               1981

 

 

 BETTY JEAN, HER SONG

 BETTY JEAN, HER SONG

 

 

I enter, laden Fiberglas,

Her burning eyes,

Gown askew, one flat flaccid

Breast, wanton

Peppered hair,

Lips in flight, slatternly,

Mobile skin,

Face like an axe unmanning me.

 

-----Dub, dub,

      Christ in a tub,

      Rub a dub,

      The Lord is my shepherd.

 

"Time to eat, my sweetest,

Pureed lamb and toast.

I'd really like to save your soul.

I fear I haven't got the ghost."

 

-----Your breath is putrid, foul.

      Your teeth are bad.

       I shall not want.

 

      Your breath is putrid, foul

       I shall not want

      To hate your smile.

 

The sustenance in place,

She has the acumen to use a spoon,

Wielding the mashed

Potatoes,

A plastic tub of applesauce,

Intoning monotone

Of Scripture, cant.

I calculate her rant.

 

-----I want a kiss.

      I want a kiss.

      Jehovahs hiss yea though I walk.

 

      You're such a lovely girl.

      I love a girl's face on a man.

 

      It maketh me to lie down

      In green pastures.

 

      Moo, moo, the cow is blue,

      And so are you,

      Red white and blue.

 

"No one's listening, Betty Jean."

I slice her mess in careful clots.

"Your Savior dreams of pleasant things,

A garland of forget-me-nots."

 

-----Meanie meanie minie moe,

      Catch a serpent by the toe.

      Still waters.

      Still waters.

 

      Blessed are the poor in heart,

      I think.

      You stink.

 

      I think you stink.

  

      Your breath is the negative thigh,

      How long, my lord?

 

The stench of lamb

Is on her breath.

She is death fumbling for a door.

She is hymen,

Gnarled feet poised

Above the tile,

Lamb on her knuckles, chin,

A smile.

 

-----My mind slips.

      Please kiss my lips.

      Please kiss my lips.

      My mind slips.

 

      In the beginning God created

      Thou shalt not kill.

      Is this the time to take my pill?

 

"If I could freeze your instant,

Launch it toward the head of Cain,

I'd startle galaxies to wonder

That God includes such sad refrain."

 

-----Dub, dub,

      Let me kiss your mouth.

      I'm headed north

      While you are headed south.

 

                                            1980

 

 DECUBITUS

 DECUBITUS

 

 

Sedder, doubled, dwells in stink,

Twin blossoms on his hips.

His twist is human, human lips

Phrasing a smile that grips.

 

Mittens grace his mottled fists,

Blue as his tortured eyes,

Protect the bruises on his thighs.

He'd score them otherwise.

 

A condom sheathes vestigial sex

To feed the tube and sack

Beneath his fickle, human crack.

We monitor the surfeit, lack.

 

The blossoms rooted in his soil

Flaunt angry stamen, petal,

A stench of vivid, rosy metal

Fed in the flesh to settle.

 

His conversation's useless, mad,

From soup to pureed veal.

Necrotic orchids share each meal.

The dialogue is mute but real.

 

Turned like a spit at intervals,

His eyes a frightening why?

This host requires attention, dry

Dressings, blessings on the sly.

 

Curious.  We struggle to preserve

A final meal we cannot cheat.

All garden blossoms soon must eat.

An angel seeded Sedder's meat.

 

                                            1981

 

 

 APRIL IN 501

 APRIL IN 501

 

 

The pain from 501 is more than vocal.

Sort it out, the torment's total.

Just that wail, that crucifix.

Try as I might, it sticks.

 

And if I dare to flick the light

On that awful sight,

Hands like seedpods dancing,

Spread in a mound, that bullet-headed fright,

 

Tricky Nick gathering inward bellow,

Sack of leaking Jello,

Daring to go nowhere but in in in,

And then the shriek—"God God God God God,"

 

Obscene mantra like Capone on Calvary,

Unsavory.

I step in and watch his glistening face,

Eyes like a blinded cat.  They trace

 

A greater pain than Buddha can erase,

Disgrace

Huge wisdom.  There, he's breathing better.

I pet his shoulder.

 

Oh yes, my friend, it's Charlie Christ.

You crucify hard-fought assumptions,

That God somehow is love

And not above but inner, thirsty as a bitch.

 

You make him scratch where he can't itch,

You lump, you thing

Clawing toward ultimate blessing.

Your smile would make poor Buber twitch

 

And shake like Jesus in the manger.

You are the greatest danger.

You are the paradox,

A hymn to Judas dangling, catheters in cocks.

 

                                               1981