Apologia Litania

Today in Pest’s open air markets there is a sale on holy
water and scapulars, hand-carved chess pieces, and Oriental
spoons whose sole task is to approximate the luxurious

sprawl of the Danube. There are swords upon which I’d throw
myself were it the time and place to throw myself
upon vanity, and fresh fruits. Think of a hitchhiker’s passport

to heaven. But there is a holier water distilled from the tap
and used to clear the ciborium of divinity that she poured
into the mulch insulating the dogwood. What is devotion

more than loyalty to that alternate power truly and ably
able to wound us; worship that it seeks to soak into the roots
of a precious tree. For all my talk of tied-down guns and dying

with my boots on, the way I play Augustus McCrae giving all
of himself to the gangrene to spite his rotting legs, the voices
in which I say A man isn’t a man if he doesn’t have the faculties

with which to kick a pig—for all of that, you have seen me absolutely
ugly as I listen to my father preempt his dying wish in which
he wishes I become a priest: baling bread, smearing ashes, falling

in love with a crisp cassock and phrases like Latens Deitas-
and you have borne it. My Pillar of Autumn. My Tower
of the Off-Ivory. You said to me yesterday a second time

wounded lover, who else would love you? And no one would.
And I know I do not yet understand this morning’s market
where I’ll guess wrongly under which shell lies the pea.

-John Fenlon Hogan, Linebreak

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