sins of a father (gods and kings and men of all kinds)

to Neil Gaiman

and if I choose your sanctuary
I want to wash you with my hair.
I want to drink of sacred fountains
and find the riches hidden there
“Be Mine,” New Adventures in Hi-Fi, REM

Pull out his eyes,
Apologize. . .
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce

i don’t believe in God
the way most people do

gods are another matter
although mostly semantics

semantics is a god in fact
with no need for a capital “g”

(and don’t discount the “man”
hidden in plain sight in the middle)

what do words mean when typed
uttered thought or projected by hand?

and how do they dissemble the air
into molecules that also craft water?

gods oxygen diction and syntax
are not child’s play or things for conjuring

but apologies coaxed after i fall to my knees
from the staff cracked in anger across my shins

clutched by the only people i have truly loved
pushed to the edge of murder and burning bridges

by the sins of a father blinded by fog and ash and sirens
stripping the words from his aging mind and heart and soul

i trusted the mirror

i never looked
at your eyes

but that isn’t true
i stared inside

because i love you
beyond love

and failed to see me
shining there

like a madman or demon
bound by chains

and swinging a maul
in a purple ache

gods and kings and men of all kinds
have counted on absolution contrition and good intentions

it is the stuff of wars and tidal waves
that leaves children and women smoldering among the wreckage

yes the sins of heedless fathers are taxing
borne like chain mail or rusting armor by soldiers in servitude

indentured betrothed cloistered anchoritic
because it is their lot subsumed by billowing exothermic passion

fire depends on incantation

oxygen and kindling
things loved by gods and kings and men of all kinds

who stare at the flames
and fail to see their hands in the orange glow before them

or hear the hissing
of their names that begs to be heard like a child or a lover

men love words

and the projection of their own monologues

words measured

like pillars anchored beneath the rising brine

and afterward

apologies and explanations and good intentions

words like

collateral sorry but while looking you in the eyes

but gods and kings and men of all kinds have never listened
apologies must reach beyond words gold-plated and polished
apologies are not tourniquets kisses stitches or kabuki masks
drizzled like honey and sprinkled like cinnamon or faerie dust

i will wash your hair
and dry it with a blue towel

i will kneel before you
untie the straps of your shoes

i will wash your feet
and dry them with a blue towel

these things done and not spoken
duties of gods and kings and men of all kinds

baptized by sin sparking your anger
please pardon the soot on my hands and face

—P.L. Thomas