American God

We buy him a drink and ask the bartender
to let him know we’re down here
at the end or in this day-and-age we find his profile
and message him until he blocks us and the poem
could also end here. But we strip him of his costume,
that one that Raphael gave Plato; some tear
at the red toga while others go through the junk
drawer or the best of us, the butcher’s block of knives,
for a pair of kitchen scissors to attack that purple
tunic. We all get the job and after a few years
we learn to dress the part. Once we’ve pulled him down
someone mentions Adam, so we throw in
an orange jumpsuit and head to a local barbershop,
the one on the corner with a name like Cleopatra
or Waves or Slick Cutz while the worst of us
whisper too urban. No one wants
to line him up, so some natives with one eighth of what we
would consider immigrant pull out
a knife and we shear his beard,
trim his nostrils and let his ears bleed because all
of this is a lie. We’re really at a meeting
and he’s there but he doesn’t share anymore,
so we tell our best stories. We mention rape,
which leads to parents and drawing baths to lower
our infants into the water with their lukewarm giggles
while in some of us there is a cold
thought lurking that when they cry we would hesitate
to comfort them, whispering a nursery rhyme
before we let our hopes drown. At some point
we are these victims and perpetrators of every tall tale
explaining our natural destruction of hatred
for fear of the barefoot figures,
the others, encircling the campfire
as we sleep. Honestly, we all take a little longer
to thumb the sugar packet by the percolator
hoping he’ll be forced against us
to pardon his reach or congratulate our share
or even offer to have us on his podcast because the truth is
we all fear heaven and it has nothing to do with him
or her or it. Whether we stand in line
on a cloud or put on a robe with wings
over our shoulder blades or enter a big bright tunnel
that only leads to a series of doors or a room full of candles
where someone behind us sneezes
and a flame dies and another person
says that was you or the brain dances until all the electric
runs out into a vacuum, no matter, there in the darkness or the blinding
we will be alone in a state of admission. Entering
a long hallway where there is no one equal to
whoever it was we believed in or thought we were.

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