Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-three
Winter 2013
Penance Assigned to the Adulterers
Sandy Longhorn

This is the circular territory
               of deranged saints who built
a wooden grotto in the midst

                             of a minefield,
a fuse leading to the shrine’s core.
               When forgiveness passes
possibility, the sinned against
                             strike a mass of sparks.

The fire might burn all year if left to rage.

Instead, to save the relic
               and the holy stones,
sinners navigate a marked path
                             to the outer walls,

               their buckets, their one
garden hose, the steam & hiss of dousing.

Dressed in leather shrouds,
               blackened names laced into pockets,
they pray for a sweat-soaked,
                             melting absolution.

They advance along the burial corridor.

Camphor pendants cool the skin,
               wake those who might succumb.
The aroma blossoms,
               seeps into the faltering heart,

                                            stimulates the beat,
satisfies & sustains the mission.

About Sandy Longhorn

Previous Poem | Next Poem