Martyr

A Church in mourning
looks out over Woolworths.

The homeless man spits
and sits
on golden steps.

He lights up, then splutters.
Plastic bags pole-dance round the steeple,
their sides torn out.

A rotting capsicum,
cereal-box toys
slide down stained glass.

Mother Mary watches.

Yellowed fingers clutch
a nearly empty bottle
Holy Water only $6.99!

A headless Pokémon
falls on his own shaking head.
He looks up

The heavens are thick with fumes
Trees wave elegant arms
It starts to rain.

Jesus takes another swig
legs to one side,
liquid dribbles down his chin.

A Nike-dressed lady with a pram
rolls her eyes,
forced to jog around Him

as He passes out on the ground.

Cinnamon salt

I sat in pulsing silence

a drip of sweat over sunscreened cheek

of just-before-1pm

 

The temple was red

and “mom, it smells like old indian people”

came floating through the open door

 

Incense went stick upon stick

from an endless donation box to Confucius

and other gods

 

I didn’t know

but I did remove my shoes;

flat leather plates with thinning straps

 

Sitting, exhausted

on a tiled step of tourist history

 

I could tell, after ten minutes

another bunch of americans had gathered near

“oh look shhhh! she’s praying!”

 

Maybe I was

maybe the ignorant tourist was praying

in an ancient temple devoted to gods and figures of eternal wisdom and power

she didn’t know or understand

 

Still I breathed in the perfume dust,

knowing there’s always

the beach

 

From kneeling to swimming

it’s a 4km pilgrimage from here

so the sign says

 

I’ll go now

I’ll wash away the sweat and sins

by sea