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Head’s Up poetry column: An Eye For an Eye


“Are you saved?” he asks me,

sunrise in the corner of his eye,

a snag at the edge of his voice.

In a blur of memory, I see the others:

the preacher who used to trounce my tender sins,

kids at church camp, their brimstone choirs

shrill with teenage lust gone underground,

true believers come knocking to tell me

that flaming hell is real.

And those twisted faces on the tube:

Christian gunmen in Beirut, their hot eyes

exploding in the beds of sleeping children;

the righteous hatreds of Belfast, lighting

Irish eyes like a tenement fire;

the eyes of the Ayatollah, squinting with joy

at the blood of his blindfolded prisoners.

It smolders in the windows of the soul,

that holy blaze, never so bright

as in human sacrifice,

never so proud as in crimson crusades,

the glorious, godlike destruction.

From Perfidious Proverbs and Other Poems:

A Satirical Look At The Bible