Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Dime Priest



I sat with the dime priest on the steps of Saint T's, like a paper cup blown up against a holy statue in a garden.

I said,

"I am falling, falling. I am an ice chunk;

My mother the sky has farmed me out to her sister the earth,

Via express delivery."



The dime priest looks over, his huge hands dangling over his knees as if waiting for some greater work.

"What's wrong, Pookie?" he asks me simply, tilting his chin up.

He could have starred in movies.

"The tense has changed," I point out irrelevantly.

"It always does," he tells me with a shrug.



We watch the traffic in front of us, and the clouds above. No stop lights there. No brakes, either.

I love the dime priest. He is so queer and kind.

"Maybe I should say confession."

He looks down and laughs, his broad shoulders shaking.

"I may as well take it from a cat. You don't know what 'no' is, except for just an obstacle,

Something placed out of reach

Just to vex you."



Why can't I marry the dime priest?

I would make sure his vestments were always clean and mended.

He would make sure never to let me fall into the deep end of my heart.

We would fix our favorite coffee;

Always defend each other to strangers,

Never have sex,

And be smiled upon by some god somewhere,

Wouldn't we?



I am a spill, spreading.

He is the quicker picker upper.

"Who is she, Pookie?"

I falter, like a papier-mache bird caught in the rain.

"She is out of reach, like God.

She is funny and crazy, like the commandments.

She rides inside of something else, like Jonah.

Her faith wavers, like the heat over a fire.

She's just some woman I met," I add miserably.



He will look over at me, with those matinee idol eyes

And I will see that he's on to me,

Like everybody's on to me--

And he will know that I love this one,

Just like everybody knows I do--

And I will fall apart on the steps of Saint T's, and he will pat me with his bear paws and say,

"Aw, Pookie, it's gonna be okay."

I will say, into his black shirt, "The tense has changed again."

He will say, "It always does,"

And then he will be

The dollar priest

And I will be

Scattered change.

______

for One Shot Wednesday

36 comments:

Desert Rose said...

you do know how to capture your readers shay! i had smiles all over my face reading you and it got me thinking deep..i enjoy this ride with you :) GREAT POST! :)

Brian Miller said...

so the priest got a raise...must not have been a congragational ruled church...they like to keep them poor and humble...ahem..i am not sure how fun a sexless marriage would be...ahem...but i love you imagery and enjoy talking to cats...they dont talk back...were we talking about marriage...sorry i am all over the place today...happy one shot...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my Freaking God, could this poem BE any more fantastic??????? Shay - your writing! So brilliant and wonderful and in its own genre. So many lines I just adored:
the paper cup against the holy statue, the tense changing, "never to let me fall into the deep end of my heart" (oh my GOD!), the papier-mache bird caught in the rain, the faith wavering over the fire, "and I will be Scattered change."

Lord, woman, I have never read poetry like this and it is freaking BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!

One of your best. And under the humor, one feels the pain.

TALON said...

Looking for a safe place...and knowing it's just out of reach...

Daryl said...

I am in the deep end of my heart and this touched me more than I can type

hedgewitch said...

You've been profligate with your amazing images again in this one. 'blown like a paper cup,' all that wise intuitive advice about obstacles and confessions from cats, and the interest-fixing juxtapositions of the yearning wild musical parts with the telling prosaic homey phrases.."funny and crazy, like the commandments"..."quicker picker upper," indeed..image of the self being blotted up, wrung out and now ready to be recycled as anything from a tampon or sketch pad for a preschooler to the last chapter in someone else's Great American Novel. Good solid work. I hate you. ;-)

La Belette Rouge said...

"I will say, into his black shirt, "The tense has changed again."

He will say, "It always does,"
He's right. And you are right. And you must know that you are an extraordinary writer. Your ability to create worlds in under 200 worlds blows my mind. I write and write 1200-2000 words and I don't think I have ever created a world like you do( not knocking myself---just noticing with awe what I can't do).
xoxo
Weasel-friend

neighbor said...

oooo! that's really lovely! The dialogue and the attention to detail are fresh and immediate - I love the spiraling of themes and meaning.

dustus said...

What a wild ride of a poem, yet it reads with such control of meanings.

Beachanny said...

I think I love you (or maybe I hate you too)...good job, great images, great word play, takes you in and changes tense. What a great work. I really do love you and this. Gay @beachanny

Lulú said...

Funky ending. *I* want to marry the dime priest, so we can NOT have sex...just coffee. ;)

Steve said...

Fun, whimsical work.

liv2write2day said...

Shay, you have portrayed with such clarity the tension between religion and sexuality...between -self-acceptance and self-condemnation. Remarkable poem.

http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/one-shot-wednesday-monotone/

G-Man said...

Shay...This Rocked!!

(But where was White Fang and Black Tooth?)

moondustwriter said...

The tense is always changing

you really do cover the gamut from 10 cents to one dollar

Wowza for One Shot

moonie smiles

Cloudia said...

A gem

moving too

razzamadazzle said...

I just love coming here to read your poems. They have such a reality to them. "He would make sure never to let me fall into the deep end of my heart." That line is just so great!

Teresa

mac said...

Of course you won't have sex, he's a priest. The don't do that sort of thing.

Pete said...

from someone who only uses images

Awesome!!!

jen revved said...

very original, sure touch, open-hearted and cool! Unexpected turns and images...xxxj

signed...bkm said...

great write Shay, the dime priest - think I talked to one or two of them in my life...to young to understand..that they new nothing about girls...absolutely nothing...if it wasn't for reading...I would be insane ....bkm

Aquarius63 said...

Such vivid imagery in your words and more to read between the lines, profound, expressed so uniquely.

Anita.

Claudia said...

wow - just wow - so many fantastic lines in this...most of all i think i love the scattered change..

senderupwords said...

TREMENDOUS piece. Just great. Wonderful One Shot. Love and Light, Sender

Lynn said...

Matinee idol eyes - can just see that. :)

Mama Zen said...

This would be pretty good if it rhymed . . .

Sorry, couldn't help myself. This blows me away. Honest to God art. Beautifully crafted art.

Susannah said...

Yes, Yes, Yes!

I echo what Sherry Blue Sky says....you are brilliant Shay, I love it! :-)

kkrige said...

Brilliant. I think I need to read this again.
Yeah, so much here. Lovely

Joanna Jenkins said...

Nice, nice, nice....
Cheers, jj

Shashi said...

Its wonderful piece of writing ...I enjoyed every bit of it. Thanks for sharing..

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

Caty said...

I think I really like that dime priest. seems humble, friendly, and un-judging. Great write!

Pete Marshall said...

excellent and original...as always...cheers pete

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

I love this...filmed in black and white..fifties early sixties

Holden Caulfield meets Lolita

chromapoesy.com said...

I love how you deal with the issue of identity in this poem. It dissolves, shifts, reforms, and is scattered. The priest acts as a stabilizing force, a man capable of securing the smile from 'some god somewhere'. 'I am a spill, spreading.' This is such a potent and beautiful line, so full of yearning and sadness. The sense of the beloved as another liminal being 'rides inside of something else, like Jonah.' is heartbreaking. The complexities of relationships: to the self, the lover, the emissary, the divine are so well captured here. I'm so glad I found this excellent poem through your interview on Poets United.

rosemary mint said...

"He looks down and laughs, his broad shoulders shaking.
"I may as well take it from a cat. You don't know what 'no' is" ... Ha! Love this.

"I would make sure his vestments were always clean and mended.
He would make sure never to let me fall into the deep end of my heart." ... What an exchange.

"I am a spill, spreading." ... Mmmm. This is so good.

"She is out of reach, like God.
She is funny and crazy, like the commandments.
She rides inside of something else, like Jonah." ... Superb.

My very favorite parts of this brilliant work are your references to the change in tense, almost like you are hovering above yourself, and also the ending:

"And then he will be
The dollar priest
And I will be
Scattered change." ... Scattered change. Your double-play with "change" and "tense" (earlier) ... you have a quick mind, Shay. I'm so impressed with you.

Björn Rudberg said...

My curiosity pulled me here.. and when the dime priest becomes a dollar priest it's so much more than inflation... Quite a gem to keep hidden like that. :-)