Terence Roe


he climbs the stairs to Bethlehem
where swaddling bands are strewn
about the attics
between the craters
of the scattered bloodied moon

now winding sheets describe
a bodies
this dimming place
where only seconds before love went up in flames
burnt in an envelope
sealed unsent
to the holy remembrances
of ash and
sex and

at war with chaos
he orders up his tomb of
stained ornaments and
faded blooms
he washes the stairs from width
to length
top to tail
cleans the grate of ancient cruel nails
straightens the cushions in a perfect row
of nine
kicks himself
he never bought the tenth

when she touches him
he instantly withdraws
an anemone
awash at sea
into his own melting flesh
seeking refuge from the cause

he stiffens suddenly
he’ll catch the ghost of sins
that shift across her face by Sunday noon
when he’ll be paralytic
locked out-
side his room
reciting risqué parables
venomous hymns