You're still here though, said Marguerite,
Or did you go away and then return?

I'd just reached the high stoplights that rule
The place where Ishtar intersects Main
When some organ inside me lost its grip
And let inner landscapes liquefy
And come geysering up to seek release.
I stopped the bunted float and disembarked.
Nausea weakened legs, staggered my step,
Made it a long march to the nearest curb
Where a man was beating a parking meter
With rolled up umbrella to the coinbox.
I watched him go to work at this vengeance
To take attention off my roiling guts.

All saints endure dark nights of the gut.

Was this just a bout with motion sickness,
Or was it a new effect of divine zap?
Or was I only sick of prophetic work
And sick of these crowds, sick of Nineveh?
And with nausea came doubled vision.
Sunlight dimmed as if obscured or eclipsed
By a great archaeological trowel.
The street tilted as if heaved by earthquake
And I saw pavements broken, wreckage strewn,
Each passageway blocked by rubble heaps.
At noonday desert owls and screech owls
Uttered cries perched upon stone columns
Fallen over across the marketplace.
I picked my way through the broken housebeams,
Through the yellowed human bones underfoot,
Bones of dead dancers, bones of dead priests.
And what if I spake? Would scattered bones rise
And snake up rustling to reassemble,
To cage me round with incantations and ribs,
Incorporate me whole into their dance
Around counting, revelatory djinn?
I was like that surly shade that witchcraft
Had recalled, reembodied, reawakened
To bear witness to its foresight ignored.
This outcome had not been overlooked.
My second sight showed me a second scene
Superimposed on this present contentment,
A persistent vision of desolation
To defeat new, increased expectation.
It was time, I thought, to take a lunch break.
I saw Ernie's Bar and Grill was nearby
And headed there, almost on hands and knees.

This hagiography, said Marguerite,
Includes full descriptions of all your meals?
What about your showers, your shopping trips?

People expect too much of their prophets,
Never thinking that they might go shopping,
Eat food, stroll around the market place,
Although it's true that when they do
Armed store detectives keep a close eye
And walkytalky warnings up the mall.
A saint's behaviour doesn't differ much
From that of pickpockets or shoplifters
Or shifty types as apt to plant a bomb
Or rape young schoolgirls or smoke a joint
As participate in consumer culture,
Sup upon oval food court fixtures
With bags of purchases stuffed underneath.
But trust me, Marguerite, to tell my tale
So that no unnecessary dining
Slows progress toward grim conclusions
That leave nothing unsaid or unresolved.

Wait, said Marguerite. A thought has struck.
Just how, parrot, do your words come out?
For don't you need to draw a breath to speak?

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