Where Would We Be Without Penance?

by Benjamin Ogden


A man sometimes will even beg to be punished.
Penance suits me, he says,
Just the sort of thing I bear well.
And itís not just boast.
He welcomes the furious hail
of his wifeís tiny fists
as he would any rain
that doesnít find him.
For he knows that while his gilded screams
send neighbors scurrying to flip-latch the shutters
and old women to muttering curses
to be carried out by various Gods,
and that as he is pitched
headlong to the curb
as in some terrible circus dream
where seals are dressed like peddlers
and shot from cannons,
Conscience, sly dog, has sewn together
all the sheets in the house
and is casually shimmying out the window,
while Redemption waits in the bushes
laughing so hard he can barely breathe.


Next: "Pith"