Despair, the great Augustine says
is the only real sin,
all sin the result of it, or
it’s the basis of sin, or
something, and what else have
you heard? That it’s heresy, or
hearsay, something like that?
And what did she say? Her love had—
Died? Bucket kicked? Flared out,
like a pilot light, expired like
milk, curdling in the mouths of babes,
Lord, she said something like that.
And Augustine says, where despair
is the opposite of faith, then
asphalt is the opposite of sky, roadways,
concrete the opposite of flight,
birds popping against windows
the opposite of hope. A little hope,
the great Augustine says, is a dangerous thing,

Or, he said, sometimes all you gotta
do is ask. Squeeze your despair
into a coin, roll it toward some
overwhelming asking, or hoping,
some reaching and overreaching,
where desire is the opposite
of death. Or of despair. So
you grasp at the asphalt beneath
your fingers, and ask, and
from desire to despair is just
that quick! A twitch, a hitch,
a piece of loose grass, a dropped coin,
a loose thought, of what? Of her?
And, God help you,
what horny things
protrude from your sheets
of poems, startled onto the page
like flocks of commas, hot,
hot like decaying protons,
like steaming asphalt, hot
like kiln bricks,
like witchy ovens where hopes
like lost children burn?