Chanting the Names of God
How lovely, after it all,
the day, the secrets, the dirged sacral clamor of morning,
the bleak, stunned presentiments,
the momentary terrors,
the long black rites of standing and looking out,
the perpetual risings
how lovely, after it all, to sit out in the evening,
Eating ice cream.
To talk of love, after it all, love, which like the Paraclete
Which does not know fear.
To sit leaning forward, intent on conversation.
To watch her sitting there, on a low wall, in an ordinary garden,
she who with a glance and a few words is already well known
To talk, rapidly and without fear, of the ways of the heart,
of secret things, of other things not secret but scarcely known.
To tell how, once, young, walking through the city,
you chanted the names of God, seeing light like a vapor
in the faces around you, walked transfigured, the bright cloud
building around you.
To remember, and tell, what the death-fear was like, how it was
to lie broken and hoping for nothing.
To stand, amazed, as she, knowing your heart, hugs you, says,
"Is that OK?," and hugs you again.
To speak without shame.
That weary old Fascist, my on-flowing heart,
longs to age in the sun far from women and weeping,
or to stroll numb with blondes through a city's last days,
wild with fury and joy, as the streets fill with dead.
So a bad stanza goes. The truth is much worse.
But who can say what it means to live cold to the bone?
I demur, and confirm all your worst fears about me.
A man of my type cannot feel anything.
Our love rages on. I return to myself.
But return stooped and wan from a winter of siege.
I am making this poem. It will kill many things.
What I struggle to say you will say aimed the guns.
Joe Ahearn is the founder and editor of Rancho Loco Press and
His criticism, translations, and poetry have appeared in many periodicals, including
The Quarterly, Five AM, Dallas Review, Mudlark, Recursive Angel, Sulphur River Literary Review,
and others. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, most recently
in 1996. His book-length manuscript, Folie, was a finalist in the
1997 Violet Haas Reed Prize offered by Snake Nation Press.
Ahearn’s work has been collected in the limited-edition
chapbook, Kyoko At Play (Harvest Publications, 1994) and in two
anthologies: CrossConnect: Writers of the Information Age (CrossConnect,
Inc., 1997) and Other Testaments (Incarnate Muse Publications, 1997).
These poems here are from his manuscript, Five
Fictions, which will be published by Sulphur River Review Press later
this year. Ahearn lives in Dallas, where he writes poetry, essays, and
books about advanced software development.