Today's poem is by Clay Matthews

Poem For The Twenty-First Century Gatekeeper

Thirty days in the hole and when my body proceeded
into the light I looked behind at what was left

and there were words on the wall and teeth
on the ground and the bones of an animal

that once dipped its head into the edge of the ocean,
and in rising determined or was determined

to be no more. Oh, Moses, what is this
pang that tears down my back? Thirty days

in the hole thirty days later outside
of some bar on the edge of some interstate

where the world is coming and going and so in stopping
I have no burden to lay down. Lay down, Moses,

the people are not speaking today. A bucket full
of mouths I feed to the swine who bask

in the midday sun and in my shadow for a moment,
as if the darkness I produce at certain hours

of the day can carry over into a momentary salvation.
I believe in none of this and in all. I am not

this image, this body, this anthropomorphic pasture
I look out upon where a break in the tree line

opens like a throat or a pair of arms, where I walk
through into a welcome or digestion

of some organic creature that gurgles in the mire.
Bring us water, bring us loaves, bring us

higher wages and cleaner cells. There are words
written everywhere. There are messages on these walls.

Scratched and bled and battered in a system
of lines and dots that come together at the echo of doors closing.

Copyright © 2006 Clay Matthews All rights reserved
from Backwards City Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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