“Frenchmen conjured the exquisite corpse

as a parlor game;

An American hobo mistook the grass

for the uncut hair of graves.

And how will it ever end?

Unless the day finally arrives

When we have compared everything in the world

To everything else in the world.

Who cares if some oneyed son of a bitch

Invents mosques in the clouds?”


How many nights have I fallen on my

Knees mouthing prayers to an empty room

As I considered the color of silence?

Unaware faith is hinged like a Dutch

Door with only the lowest portal unlatched.


I imagined the voice of God

Possessed the furor of Lions;

Yet I heard only the broken tongue of Sparrows.




This morning I witnessed an Angel

And knew him by three signs:

The dark tone of his complexion

(If stories speak of alabaster,

why not ebony?)

The screaming color of his clothes

(If stories speak of radiance,

why not gaudiness?)

And by the wild contortions of his body

(If stories speak of grace,

why not ungainliness?)


And as he maneuvered his

automobile through the intersection

The Angel told me this:

“Do not despair of praying to an empty room

Any more than the sower despairs of planting in an empty field;

For the clearing of weeds and thorns is the long work of many hands.”


Though he spoke with the voice of God

He possessed not the furor of Lions,

But instead the broken tongue of Sparrows.




If Truth wears a shawl of cold astral

Flame, then I am a pinprick in the side

of a box. If I am filled with Holy

Spirit but refrain from Hallelujahs and

Care not especially for Jesus,

Resist the temptation to expand me;

A wider lens would be blinded by the Sun.


Let me drink from the dirty washbowls of prophets.

My bowels expel what is unclean from me,

as the water expels what is unclean from me.


How the space between our words is as

Incalculable as the space between Atoms!

The physicist describes the universe as stretched fabric

Bulged by balls, so it might fit in our heads;

What reality matches the cipher of my skull

Escapes my mouth like breath in winter.


So I speak of the voice of God

Possessing not the furor of Lions

But instead the broken tongue of Sparrows.

Joseph Byron Bennett


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