This sun gives no warmth in the December sky:
cold is nature’s way,

and this is the most lonesome sound to a non-believer –
the soulful clang of bells.

Beyond the market’s walls
the prophet’s voice wailing in the frosty air,
the price of heifers.

This is my first job, from dark to dark;
the raised scar on the back of my right hand
is shaped like a question mark –

the cut-glass of a thrown rock.

And I am Iscariot to your flesh,
my flesh the food taken from famine mouths –

now in the entry I hand out stale bread
to the cursing down-and-outs.

I believe your parents have fixed
your humiliation to a fine date
ringed red on the calendar with Holy Days,

yet still in the flour store, among the grains,
we lie naked

for this is the ritual of our love
suffering stones in a desert
of churches, chapels, mills, homes,

the sound of hurley sticks snapping on bone
echoing out over the iron and brick of cattle pens,

the torn hair and blackened skin
of one who dared to go before the law.