by J. Scott Brownlee

And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.
-Denis Johnson

We have chosen to scar our skins here
     in tin shacks where we conjure up
more than Christ could on hot plates—
     full of chemical psalms now
and prayer-less waking.  We're the dead
     you forgot.  We're the saved
and the damned in the First Baptist pews,
     where repentance is free but can never save us. 
We buy bottles of Drano we slowly empty
     in the same way we do Duracell batteries
leaking golden acid: an erasure of everything
     witnessed and felt as the sky opens here,
sometimes, during a storm—promising
     after rain the good cleansing of church
or a stiff drink to stave off the feeling of emptiness
     gathering up.  We cough ribbons of blood
with each drug-addled breath.  You cannot heal us,
     Lord.  You cannot raise us up like you did Lazarus. 
As he approached you from the grave with insects
     clinging to his hands, you could not believe it. 
The first time words became flesh surprised you. 
     You understood symbolically you were the Son of God
until you raised a man.  Then you physically did. 
     Similarly, the first meth we made surprised us.
Our homes each exploded.  We stood outside them
     in the dark—choirs of sirens closing in, bright red
and blue light bathing us—and could not believe it.