Joseph Spece



I was John of the tree gum, of tamarisk
and the locust

and wore the patina of trees

And God made me a gutter for waters
that would well

over a better man than I

And this was my method: to shunt: to look
ever past and next

to proscribe by rote again

And to Herod I said This niece is not yours
and to the headsman

I said This head is not yours

Though he had it and slid me as each had—

onto the salver he ordered

This girl with the yellow silks cannot ford
the spleen

that surges like burn in me now

And being without benediction may bring          
a pinwheel of runes

like shivs in hot gold

And being without benediction may bare
each face as a charger

that rings in the hall

And next I will trail the length of my gore
like attar, my Lord

into your long Empyrean



Though some research on John the Baptist followed, this poem was majorly driven into being by Gustave Moreau’s The Apparition