On Exile

No bells strike at Saint Matthew’s; midnight
   means lights out; across Fayette Street, windows
send slow signals; but for hope of daylight,
    no means of evoking, painted or not, halos.
Occasional cars; the 7-11 parking lot empties
   not completely, the night crew forced to spill
      laced coffee, pills, down throats, past painted
faces reflecting gloom, as they plan candies
      passed around to kill behind, enemies
         locked in basements, unwilling dross killed.

Dull, dense, reptile-laden world— nature’s phantom
    side, scarred with imperatives to destroy— I
stride past Calvary Episcopal, its handsome,
     enchanted spires, trying to forge a “who” and “why.”
Caravaggio’s John the Baptist, crouched darkly
     in murk, I superimpose on Conshohocken at
       night, including the succession into severed head—
knowing that in there (7-11), warnings sharply
    uttered mean nothing, less than nothing at that,
       humanity is lost, then its corpse is bled.

This is not the world I was born for— Butler
    Pike, a Honda pulls into the abandoned
Dairy Queen lot, the young male driver scuttles
    out into the apartment complex, fear-flattened—
as to what John Milton would say about these
    suburban straits, everyone changing form
       like Satan, a poet singed by lost innocence
up all night on his own pills, thoughts, caffeine—
     I divine he knew all this, putrid fires warmed
to kill brains, rigid rules passed on, idiot to idiot.