Five poems

by David Rawson

Hollowed Be Thy Name


Someone, somewhere, has fashioned effigy
from guilder-rose and buried your name wet.
Mugwort eyes, blind, Judas-kissed under tree,
a curse your prayers twine to your bones and rot.

Someone is swaddling a stone in your name,
losing the weight of you down a well, one’s placed
a bullet between his teeth, loads the chamber
with a handful of cold yous encased.

Know that your replacements have sharper spines,
fuller beards, lower voices, better views.
But some memories needle, prick, and twine:
Their panted names carry your residue.

When you leave, someone will take your place,
but you’ve tattooed yourself in empty space.

On Bread Alone

Tomàs travels glorious,
ballooning delicately hazy,
tasting god in every dithyramb.

His god is too much with him,
in the blindness in every sneeze,
in the incompleteness of unction.

The octopus in stress, eating
its own arms, the knowledge
of growth and return.

Tomàs snatches plums
from burning brandy: the flapdragon,
the plucker of hurts.

Tomàs is chased by the same dog twice,
writes sermons which end in lightning,
a brainstorm of god & hurt.

Arms bitten free, where does the octopus
hide until new arms grow? The ocean
does not tell.

Tomàs lives in the burn-plucks, the ash
between thumb and index, the hot taste
of not eat this in remembrance of me,

but in remembrance of I. Tomàs knows
that to feed Black Amygdala is to feed god,
is to feed the self, is to be detrisentimental.

Peter Walks on Water

Three miles outside Capernaum, Peter sinks
into the eyes of a siren who calls out his name,

flickers sin in the synapse, glimpses the translucence
of the string line separating Peter from the I within Peter

from the God within Peter. This syncing, this slow fall
to a new port of calling: Peter, polished and waiting.

Jesus, fissure of men, casts no nets, snaps
his fingers like castanets, submerges.

Jesus, Son of Man, costumed leviathan, morning light,
blue angel of the half life, creator of the cuttlebone:

You are too much with you: density breathed
into mudslides. Handle him softly, pace your ascent, breathe

Your density, rest your lips against his fulcrum.
Your mudslide men stay awake so long, then move

back into that wetness you called them from. Hoist
him, Lord, in your costume in the moistness of night,

hold weight.


700 years before Christ, the Egyptians tunneled for Anubis
& filled those spaces with the mummified of 8,000,000
jackals and dogs, given hours of life before taking. This burial,
the anti-life potential: flickering matter in the pregnancy after speech,
God calling back light with the sucking of breath, leaving only,
“Let there be.”

1942 Holland. Roeleveld collecting two of each animal for God,
claiming their bodies for 40 years, populating his bomb shelters
with the common and the rare: 25,000 vessels for the Lord
to pour into upon his return.  When the police came before
his Savior, he knew his number was nothing to the 200,000 Dutch
claimed by the Germans.

And me with a decade of body, in the kitchen with mother, holding
the kittens.  She took them one by one, filling their mouths
with medicine. I had no knowledge of the quantum cat,
no bomb shelter promise from the anti-Noah, no orders
from a jackal-faced god: only “Children obey your parents,
for this is right.”

Dragging the shovel to hide the mewling muffled by ground, I knew
this was different from even the whispers of my father’s father
bucket-baptizing newborn pups, calling upon not a name,
but the idea of a name: there was no God in my mother’s digging.
On the edge of my father’s garden, underneath a decade of growth:
no bodies, but bones.

Pinocchio in Middle Age

From branches to hooves to stubby fingers,
and Blue Fairy is gone away.

Nocchi feels a sap, camping in the hollows,
climbing back into that womb.

He has the real boy complex, sleeping
in a bed of pine needles. His days spent

in data entry, nights dreaming of his
cerulean angel: Blue Fairy, who is

in the business of making men, an angel
with no curfew. She has a god who keeps

no light on. Gepetto has a whooping cough.
He makes his last pine box. Nocchi takes

the train home on weekends, then every other,
then not at all. Phone calls, sharing the stale joke

they have been telling for years: Gepetto says,
“Some people have a whale of a story,”

and Nocchi says, “Some have a story of a whale.”
Blue Fairy never told him about wrinkles and fat,

or the distinctions between nature, men, and angels.
Angels are more apt to talk to trees. Flesh and blood

sacrifice an intimacy that the garden knows. She is a blue
memory singing, “Once upon a time, there was you

and me, and the rest is theory.


David Rawson is completing his MA in Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he teaches first-year English courses.  He is also Assistant Fiction Editor for Sou’wester.  His favorite words are “jellyfish” and “almost.”