BENARES McDONALDS

Peter Monk Issue: Section:

The first corpse of the morning
is a priest
burning on a sandal pyre.
His wristwatch ticks hypnotically
then melts
conjuring the frankincense 
three wise men offered Christ.
Forgiving mankind's sins
mandated crucifixion
so we might opt for freedom
if we dared...
shedding the tax on our flesh
as a serpent leaves skin...
continually becoming what was inconceived
'til then.

              At the time
              when the veins on the back of the hand
              first cast a shadow
              the monk goes out
              each day to beg.

              At the moment
              the full-moon
              touches the horizon
              he shaves his skull
              (hair, beard and eyebrows)

              At the point
              when his thinking
              is muddied by his lust
              he spends a season
              in the charnel field
              and lends a hand
              at odd cremations.

Ritual consumes belief
that no thing is forbidden.
God's a corpse.
The abstract only
manifest as fiction.

Sanctified myth
holds the species in thrall
and politics is chosen first
(like poppies)
over freedom.

Vultures spiral heavenward
through clouds of human smoke.
A monk
warms his hands
on the burning cadaver.


Peter Monk 1988

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