The Ancient Modern

Bar Gods  /  Joshua Alan Sturgill         

in that familiar idolatry 
like the prickle 
of an illness just taking hold — 
I catch the face and intuit 
the body beneath the clothes 
of a young divinity 
still lustrous with 
belonging.

When did I learn the skill
to unselve myself,
to become audience and judge,
consumer of bodies and souls? 
A mouth without digestion.
A desire without reproduction.
A fire without light.

In the illness,
in the recast world of my fever
I am the loitering 
penitent; you are the glass saint 
anchored in the window.
I pray to you: give me
what you are — invaluable 
at any cost.

If you withhold,
no matter: eyes can steal 
what hands are denied.

Like the alabaster
from which the idol is carved,
you remain unmoved
by my lust (or is it
pain?).  You do not see me enter; 
you won’t remember my vows 
when I am gone.

This temple is yours, 
where everything is arranged 
for your sacrifice


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2022 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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