Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Kristofer Collins: Acts of Contrition

for Jason Irwin

The bell tower burned down the same year my father busted his right wrist

chasing a wobbly foul ball right off the garage roof near Butler and 62nd

and the bells we hear this evening chiming Vespers first rung

closer to Cincy than Morningside Ave., nearer the whispering

west than to these brown choppy waters that take tugs and all the scrap they haul

concealing them in the shade of metal towers like Washington in funeral regalia

who said too much suffering is never a good thing for any city his eyes

falling tenderly across the scabby wet knee of Millvale broken out in blood and beer

and the warning we hear watching the bruised hands of Maxo Vanka in prayer

and just as it took only one good day for James Wright to declare the impossibility

of death so this one good shot of whiskey absolves us of the burden of our days

as you become a shadow fallen across the still surface of your glass happy to risk the undertow

foolishly assured I or some good stranger here is strong enough to carry you across should your will give out


Copyright 2017 Kristofer Collins


Injustice by Maxo Vanka (detail of a mural at St Nicholas Church in Millvale, Pennsylvania]

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