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  May 2005
volume 3 number 2
-table of contents-
  home   (archived)
  Jared Carter
  Francisco Dominguez
  Gene Justice
  Marie Lecrivain
  Laura A. Lionello
  Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
  Greggory Moore
  Craig Murray
  Brenda Petrakos
  Lee Sloca
  Eric Steineger
  Mark Taylor
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Gene Justice
May 2005



    Gene Justice is an American ex-patriate, currently living in South Korea. He was one of the editors for the online journal, Triplopia.
    His prose and poetry have appeared online in Lotus Blooms Journal, Writers Against War, poeticdiversity, and in print in In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself, Vol. 6 (MW Enterprises 2005) and Literary Angles: the second year of poeticdiversity (Sybaritic Press 2005). He also maintains a semi-consistent blog, where he collects thoughts, ruminations, and resources of interest to the working poet.



In the Hands of the Living God

    Jesus went digital in 1972 with the watches—corner of Bourbon & Iberville Jesus’ agent stares into a sea of sin, pile of tracts sodden & limp at his feet, glowing red in the word of god as it flashes in red dots the length of the crossbeam of the cross Jesus’ agent holds up with one uncertain hand, a paper trail to Calvary. Follow the tracts, look in the gutters where they lay scuttled & coated with a viscous film of spittle, beer, vomit, the grey slush of shoe trackings smeared in clumsy lines across the words, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
    Jesus went digital, the word of our lord flashing by blurring by in luminous red dots & too verbose for the crowd on Bourbon Street, an endless animal stream each drop bent in deadly intensity on the lust of the flesh and the pride of life…& Oh! It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god, make that double when one happens to be stone drunk at the moment of arrival—Jesus went digital when? Today, around 7:30 when the agent of Christ drug the cross (supplied, unlike the original, with a small, detachable rubber wheel) out the front door of the Happy Christian Home for Wayward Souls to the corner of Bourbon & Iberville, though popular suspicion has it the transition took place much earlier, nearer the arrival of the first LCD watches, & before that was neon and the first neon cross, "I am the way and the light…"
    Tonight it’s a red light, Bourbon Street ambiance catching at the frayed edges of the robe of the living god & the meek looking creature who would take up his word, swallowing hard at the pressing crowd armed with beer cans & leers & in no mood at all to haggle. This sea, this street, Bourbon Street, is no place for a local, & that includes this man, a rather frightened looking young man holding up a cross & trying to hand out small booklets to passers-by, to be read once more sober, the man & the cross awash in demonic red, as if standing at the gates of hell itself. The man twists his sweating head pavement-wards as two young black kids no more than twelve—it well past midnight on Bourbon Street—nudge the agent of Christ’s elbow with not the barest pretence of avoiding him, jarring the out-crooked elbow of the agent of Christ & thereby spill a good three dozen tracts, spraying from this timid fellow’s fumbling hands out onto piss-slick street aflutter with red red red & fast receeding laughs of street punks. Reaching for the papers, the digital cross sways perilously in the supporting hand, so that for a moment it looks like the surest bet on Bourbon Street that tonight Jesus’ red light will be extinguished, until the man from the Happy Christian Home for Wayward Souls remembers, at the last possible instant, the cross, catches it & shifts his gaze uncertainly from the seemingly endless stream of humans swarming, to the gutters, to the fluorescent haze of shops, back to the tracts at his feet.
    From all directions the unmistakeable and all permeating smell of alcohol: this is my blood, this is this riot, this is the sloppy grin of the too well-off, too fat, too ridiculous in middle age woman dripping over a second story balcony dangling a string of beads over the wrought iron like bait, mouth a twisted, inelegant cavity of blood red above her faux satin dress, "Show your cock!" In another minute the beads drop to dim grasping hands below, faux satin woman leaning over the wrought iron deliriously, spilling her drink, too far gone to remember any of this, breasts threatening to tumble from the low scoop of her dress. The sheen of her dress is brown, shimmers in neon everywhere the brown shimmer the pink & garish red, the yellow of neons blaring off her dress an obscenity of haircurlers and lapdogs, the too dread this woman is flashing in the color of her dress, "Show your cock!" Somewhere she’s found more beads, more bait, more beer. In Iowa next week she’ll be telling her friends about St. Louis cathedral over coffee, but tonight, tonight she belongs to anyone who will have her. Somewhere two stories below, lost in the moil of Bourbon Street, the man who brought her here, the man who watches television in her home & answers to the name of husband, is by no means to be found bathed in the red pool of light cast by the word of our living god, "Show your cock!" Fury welling up, there, her face alight in it, with the question of why it is she wants tonight to scream this, why she needs to drink so much to scream this, fury choked down hard with a vicious upturn of the glass in her hand & whirl back into the room for more beer, more beads, more.
    This is my blood the luminous blood of red dots…in the stone doorway, in the space where brick meets crumbling wood the sounds of the street coalesce, shivers through lingerers, jazz standards, bass of blues, gospel leaks out onto Bourbon Street. In the gaps of walls huddled in a ludicrous attempt to corral this roil, bricks straining lunacy leaking through the cracks. In dim cubbyholes black kids stamp their sneakers down hard on upturned bottlecaps, the teeth biting into the rubber of their shoes forming make-shift taps for dancing, dancing next to shallow cardboard boxes, following no rhythm more complex than hunger. Tourists toss them quarters out of no sentiment more noble than guilt, women cooing at their dates "Isn’t he cute?" & the roll of a twelve-year-old’s eyes on Bourbon Street past midnight surrounded by too too familiar sounds.
    This is my body, this is the spill of Bourbon Street, this is the smear of humanity through 2 A.M. when the last stragglers wobble deliriously home certain this week’s tourists want nothing more at this delicate hour than to hear the song, the phrase, the rant that glows red in the wash of thousands like them turned loose into the things of the world. Salvation of neon. Promised land of titty bars. The happy drinking grounds at last, oh, take me drunk! To the hands of the living god whose blood is wine & flesh bread to sop the morning’s acid up with. Here the lights never go out, blinding the white of cheap t-shirts, palms, tarot read here, & "On the inside!", just past the door with no key, just past the man with the truncheon, just past everything you can’t quite get past lies the land where all of this flows eternally & without pain, where every drink is on the house & everything you’ve ever desired shall be delivered, "On the inside!"—the price of salvation, the afterthought of doormen, the patter and wiggle of wet fingertips pointing the way through this doorway, through these gates, through to the living god.

copyright 2005 Gene Justice