If you are any city, you’re
New York Las VegasAngeles Soddom Gotham every city that runs on vice, every city full of dark alleys and broken glass, every city that smells like cigarettes and old whiskey and desperate sex, anonymous sex, bruising sex, that doesn’t want to know your name or your secrets because here you’re no one, you have no past and no future, you are every city where the nights last for years and the days taste like yesterday’s hangover.
If you’re any city, you’re Pripyat, city of dust and shadows, of crumbling walls and ghosts in filmy windows, a city so long abandoned it feels unreal, impossible, frozen in the second the world went wrong, an unwanted reminder of there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-we, and yet still some brave souls cling to your outskirts, desperate to remain in the place they once loved, to eke out a meager life beside you, even as your corruption slowly alters them from the inside out.
I keep cutting off my hair and picking at my skin and pulling at my eyebrows and it’s not because I’m mourning because I’m not and it’s not because you’re gone because you’re not so it must just be that sometimes you have to rend your clothes and smear your face with ashes you just have to wail and beat your breast you know?
There are no books in which I could find answers for this, no key to be found in church or mosque or synagogue, no past pilgrims or prophets whose footsteps I might follow. Should I walk until my feet are bruised and bled? Should I withhold food and water? Should I cast stones or light candles or burn offerings? I do not know. I would cleanse myself in holy water, if you cared for purity. I would confess my sins, if you cared for goodness. But you are fickle, cruel gods and I do not know to what state of grace or disgrace I should strive to earn your love anew. There have never been ones like you in all the pantheons of history, and thus I am alone in worship and ministry both.
like a flame to moths
your monstrous divinity
white hot wrath and love
it is a loss like religion and nowhere to go on Sunday mornings, a book gathering dust on the bedside table, all meaning wrung out of the old songs until the chords are dry and wrinkled but I’m still so thirsty, a vessel waiting to be filled, and the voice that was once clear as a bell has fallen so silent I can hear the seconds ticking by which I shall never regain, the heartbeats I can’t spare, and nothing feels immortal now, not even gods