The Grey Cathedral

December 2, 2014


Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full–length collection, breaths, is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. His most recent collection, Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, is available on Poet’s Haven Press. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey, and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe, where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle.

I suppose there must be extraterrestrials
who, among the plethora of UFO specialists,
are cattle mutilators, aliens
for whom it is always harvest season,
each bovine an overflowing cornucopia.

They spend their hours slicing
tongues with surgical precision,
cleaving udders and ears free,
coring anuses and carving out hearts.
They are most neat in their work;
there is never any blood.

So perhaps today,
as I sit at my kitchen table, sipping coffee
and thinking about my departed Petunia,
an alien aboard a flying saucer
moves his scalpel and slender fingers
through the grey cathedral of her tongue.

Here are the great doors of her calfhood,
the sweet taste of warm milk
sucked from her mother’s teat.

And here are the pews of summer grass
cool and verdant against the pulse
of the morning sun. And here

is a hand–painted icon of the two of us,
her mottled snout cozy
in my hands as I tilt
my head to kiss her.

I want you to know, as you hover there
with your scanners and microscopes,
there’s no need to kneel here and pray.
She was simply a cow, born of the earth.

But do be respectful. Whisper.
Pay to light a candle or follow
the self–guided tour. Tell your friends
you found something that stirs you.

© Joshua Gage

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