Blood thudded in my ears, I scuffed,
Steps stubborn, to the telltale booth
Beyond whose curtained portal coughed
The robed repositor of truth.
The slat shot back. The universe
Bowed down his cratered dome to hear
Enumerated my each curse,
The sip snitched from my old man's beer,
My sloth pride envy lechery,
The dime held back from Peter's Pence
With which I'd bribed my girl to pee
That I might spy her instruments.
Hovering scale-pans when I'd done
Settled their balance slow as silt
While in the restless dark I burned
Bright as a brimstone in my guilt
Until as one feeds birds he doled
Seven Our Fathers and a Hail
Which I to double-scrub my soul
Intoned twice at the altar rail
Where Sunday in seraphic light
I knelt, as full of grace as most,
And stuck my tongue out at the priest:
A fresh roost for the Holy Ghost.
X.J. Kennedy, In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New
and Selected Poems 1955-2007, The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2007.