Acolyte Theater


I wore the wrong
sandals, felt ugly

in my robe, tore
the collar off

my shirt, sucked
salt from a neck

bowed at the foot
of Mary, O virgin

I was a dramatic
little boy, wandering

naked, stunted fruit
in my fists, tearing

the flesh too fast
with my bad mouth

I licked fingers, obeyed
the feeding hands

of actors cloaked
in mammalian light

never small enough
to be savior-ed, just

forward, gorgeous
silent, of course, I kept

myself quiet with verse
cursed the pair, placed

a nectarine in one’s lap
while he prayed, stroking

sap, slicked an axe
where his lips should’ve

been, O angel assigned
to hell, I chose lye

burns, my teeth gone
crooked, Our Father, face

hot as a blister, guard
the messenger child, waiting

on wings of fruit,
of little flesh clogging

God’s ear, O inverted
dramaturg disturbed

into silence, I wore
heavy masks, the lust

of converts, presented my
throat when cued, stitched

scripture, never leapt
from the altar, just kissed

the lamb unfixed, leveraging
disobedience, I ran

my mouth around
the goblet, savored

rust, collected seeds, then
watched him bleed

O animal, held
at tongue-point

I always cried during
mass, dreaming of dirt

& hands made
useful, nailing

God’s endless gown
to the floor, so he might

stop, so he might turn
around to look.

Duncan Slagle