I generally shy away from plugging my own work here, but I had the recent pleasure of being published in a Los Angeles-based online poetry magazine, Chaparral, whose editor I respect, so I thought I’d post them here. The issue as a whole is excellent and worth reading through. You can read the entire issue HERE.
My Favorite Gods
It’s easy to think that God grew jealous,
seeing Eve love Adam and Adam love Eve,
no longer needing Him. He must’ve hated their love
and newly-formed bodies entwined, writhing in grass
that was also perfect and plush and green −
He probably hated it, too, closer than He to His creation
lost to the glow of the garden
and its bountiful flow of juice-laden fruit.
Or maybe I just like to think of God as jealous,
because jealousy demands the breath of humanity
and my favorite gods are human gods:
Grecians pursuing petty quarrels,
nameless gods who sleep on lonely park benches
in the stretching afternoon shade,
and the Eastern gods who are more human
even than us, holding two or three or four souls in one
chthonian body, magnificent.
Even Jesus of Nazareth was great
not because he was god, but because he was human:
he splintered his palms cutting wood as a child
and felt the soft sponge of dirt underfoot
as he walked desert paths in high afternoon sun.
His story becomes worth so much more
when you can grasp his humanity,
hold it in your cupped hands and feel its weight.
I wonder what he thought
in those last delicate moments,
what childhood morning he recalled
when the scent of freshly-cut dogwood
filled his nose in the day’s bright third hour.
Story for Night
But not a bedtime story because I’m not sleeping tonight
though the city is quiet, well, quiet for Los Angeles, humming faintly
in the background like an air conditioner that goes on for miles.
I walk the grey and orange-glowing streets
outside, punctuating insomnia with cigarettes, thin smoke
slipping into clouds like some chemical conversation
with the industrial zone, strands of molecules entwined.
The streets are damp like they’ve splashed their faces with water
to wake from nightmares about dog piss and jackhammers,
while the coffee shop is closing up for the night,
the last person walking out the front door, its hinges creaking
like that’s the only sigh it can manage.
Traffic lights’ buzzing clicks bounce against the quiet: red, yellow, green,
and I wonder if traffic lights are the electric Sisyphus of the world,
rolling their charge up the hill past robberies and car crash fatalities
and in the worst of times still blinking red, red, red,
like giving someone a beautiful rose every day,
each one blooming and aromatic and perfect.
But who wants to live in a world with romantic streetlights?
After all, it is our fucked up world that is perfect. I keep thinking
this evening is like a still-life I’d like to hold onto.
I want to keep it like flowers in cold water
and the wine from last weekend. I want to frame it
in something ornate and collect dust with its angles.
I want to hang it in my apartment so guests can stand
and see the world that always dies before sunrise.
But I know that in a minute, maybe two if I’m lucky,
this night scene and its citrus trees will fade into reality
and everything will change. In a minute or two,
everything will be different. I will be different.
So while there’s still time, while the air is still heavy like a blanket,
will you come out so we can walk together, self-conscious,
thinking about ghosts and the full moon?
Poems Copyright © by Chaparral and Cody Deitz