Sunday, April 14, 2013

How a Resurrection Really Feels1
(a song for girls in their 20s)2

Tundra to the north and west
freshwater sea to the east
the big/second city below

And of all the bad seeds
who never found a way
out of town
the one we loved the best
had been stranded at that party
for years

The Upper Midwest
dulls the nerves
with the dull hums of devotion
glacier-scooped and wooded
and too knowable
for a big fish
with a systems-analysis
kind of mind

The free drinks
keep you
at the corner bar
the easy hookups
keep you in town

The Upper Midwest
in the stale blood of Catholics
which smells like
the stale beer
of all the college bars you went to
in high school
’cause your friend worked there
and gave you the IDs
people left behind

How many girls were Jill Van Groll?
I was, and Jenny, and Emily, and whoever
was blonde mutt enough
to pass

There is nothing to do but drink
but there are lots of kinds of drinking

there is nothing to do but drugs
but there are plenty of drugs

And of all those guys
those guys with the baggy jeans
and black t-shirts
with the wallet chains
and buzz cuts
of all those guys I couldn’t tell you
for sure
who’s dead and who’s alive

walk on back
walk on back

Dragged to Sunday Mass
I took the chalice from my mother
Eucharistic Minister
grinned and winked as I sipped
before heading back to the pew

       “Becca has a taste for wine”

There is nothing to do but sip
but some drinks are classier
than others
some drinks are Catholicker
than others

he’s been disappeared for years

And when they let him out of prison
this Christmas
and he drove around town
in John’s old truck
we missed them all so bad
all those boys

and his grin was the grin of a kid
or of ass-flat defeat
or of someone who’d felt
the divine softening of blows

We weren’t allowed
to sit and smoke in bars once

And we’re not allowed
to sit and smoke in bars now

But there was a time
            we sat in bar after bar
using one cigarette to light the next

And those were our twenties

The friends he met in the bathroom
the bullet that grazed him
the lakeview condo he rented
in the complex
where all the ballers lived
the topless bar that paid
her tuition
the suitcases full of packages

Hustlers in the land
of no opportunity

If you can’t make it here
you could take it as a sign
it’s time to get out

walk on back
walk on back

there is no such thing
as the third coast

After all
the lake freezes over
they swing the incensers over the ice
there’s a lot to confess
because there are so few ways
to be good

so we got ourselves all gone again

a bar and a steeple
on every corner

the bells ring out

and the changeover
takes no time at all


shanna said...


elisabeth workman said...

there ARE so few ways to be good here. I'm gonna share this one with my students, if that's ok with you?