I, Too, Say Amen

Read Write Word # 23

This poem was written for Read Write Word Prompt #101: P-P-P-Poetry. This is a Wordle prompt in which all of the words begin with the letter P. I used some of the words and added a few of my own in this poem, which is inspired by William Blake (the quote in the poem is from his work “Proverbs of Hell”), Langston Hughes (“I, Too, Sing America”), and one of my own poems that I wrote earlier this year. Enjoy!

I, too, say Amen.

I am having an early Sunday morning vision
of prophecy:
our bodies slapping together,
sweat running in rivers and casting shattered tributaries
off of our skins. We are somewhere
sequestered, and yet more sacred than the backseat
of my car. We sing Hallelujahs, composed in the key of carnal –
a polyglot of grunt, hiss, and shuddering breath
against a harmony of moan,
countermelodies of our whispered directions, and a
climax of screams in fortissimo. We sound
antiphons to each other, utterances in counterpoint
as we co-create again and again. This
is worship – and I, too, say

I used to think
that it was almost sacrilege, darkening Sunday’s sacred dawn
with desire. Church mornings. I used to sit
in audience of those sermons extolling prudence and purity and
warning against the pernicious trap of lechery. Those sermons,
delivered to my ears with a shuddering violence
of black baritone boom reborn from
an ancestral African shaman’s throat. I used to sit, walled in
by a shouted chorale of response pulled up from
the prowess of the preacher’s petitions: “Can I get an
Amen?” I used to sit and conjure you up in privacy, in my
theater of you hidden behind my eyes, while
I responded up to him only in my native tongue of
silent stare. If they had only known what ran rampant in
my hills,
my hollows,
what burns sacral below my stomach. That inferno
still tumbles down into the deep and secret hollow somewhere
below my navel – and when it lands, it convulses and blooms outward
into feathers of fecund flame. The explosion upon impact
is always brilliant orange, a spectral phoenix in my flesh
roaring and screaming on a clandestine pyre. He is reborn in your
presence, evoked in your absence. And I, too, say

In my holy vision, we are
hidden in hermetical,
teenaged neophytes,
intending to school each other in the esoteric – this mystery religion
without a doctrine or name except for the breaths in our lungs
and the rivers of golden I AM that have replaced
our own blood. I am captivated, held suspended in wonder by
your gilt letters, by your
illuminated manuscript, vibrating, laid open before me to
read. I touch your shoulder, trace the outline of your collarbone, and
try to read your sacred scripture,
following your bone lines with my fingers
over sternum,
past rib lines, over the crescendo and decrescendo
of your hips. My fingers find glory at the
meeting of your thighs. I read intently the
chapter and verse of your sighs. And I, too, say

And now, from the cloak of the past, I hear a proverb:
“The nakedness of woman is the work of God.” And
a procession of souls comes forth –

the poets,
the prophets,
the painters and the sculptors;
the woodsmen, the miners, and the jackhammer jockeys;
the steel mill denizens and the footfall field citizens –
running backs, halfbacks, fullbacks, and quarterbacks –
the lesbians, and the thespians echoing their practiced lines
in the halls of our high school theater;
the choir geeks, and the art freaks;
the stoners, the loners, and the Deadhead owners of
honey, black, and blonde dreads grown against
the wild and fiery or quiet and smoldered disdain
of their parents; and I,

your disciple,
your devotee,
your sacred shaman uttering incantations filled with
nothing but your name,
your dervish whirling and warping my own reality until
it becomes our shared and holy space,
your Saint Catherine of Sienna,
your Radha to your Krishna –

I, too, say Amen.

Written 11/17/09
© 2009 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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14 Responses to I, Too, Say Amen

  1. barbara_y says:

    Vivid as usual. You have great music in your work
    (If I don’t comment here often, it’s because of this:
    Vision problems. The contrasts on your site leave
    me with afterimages. To read you, I have to copy and
    paste onto a notepad document. Not that it’s not
    ultimately rewarding, but, well, lazy.)

  2. Derrick says:

    Such marvellously rich language once again. This worship of the body. I love the repetition of “I, too, say Amen” as well as the lines:

    “I touch your shoulder, trace the outline of your collarbone, and
    try to read your sacred scripture,
    following your bone lines with my fingers
    over sternum,
    past rib lines, over the crescendo and decrescendo
    of your hips. My fingers find glory at the
    meeting of your thighs. I read intently the
    chapter and verse of your sighs.”

  3. davidmoolten says:

    This is an honest and sensuous poem. Because it’s patient, as your work tends to be, building up a head of steam with a cascade of comparisons and images, and because the poem doesn’t hold back but defines its own hierarchies and holy ground, the result is both strongly moving and musical.

  4. anthonynorth says:

    This rolls on to a crescendo of sensual passion. Excellently done.

  5. Such wonderful rhythms and rich, rich imagery here. I love this line:”a polyglot of grunt, hiss, and shuddering breath…”

  6. Irene says:

    Nicole, I like this a lot. The body as scripture. I felt such a coming out in the procession of souls. Your poem is musical and laden with imagery and meant to be performed.

  7. rallentanda says:

    Your poems are well written have vivid imagery a riot of colour passion and intensity and strident rhythmic meter Your description of sex is masterful.However they are dark and troubled
    like a satanic dream and I find them very unsettling .It’s fascinating in a way because I don’t have this sort of pysche .

  8. Linda says:

    I agree with Anthony. This poem does roll on a crescendo of sensual passion, Nicole. The imagery is rich. I really enjoyed the idea of the “body as scripture” but it reminded me of former neighbors. My next door neighbors used to send her five children to church on Sunday and hang her panties in the window. If no panties were hanging, you knew it was safe to visit. The love making was done. Thanks for the memory! =D

  9. poetryaboutart says:

    Ecstasy! Ecstasy of desire, ecstasy of words! “Song of Solomon” gone extreme. I love how your poems always take risks. They shake up the reader. You are a brave poet. Keep going. I always want to hear your poems out loud. Especially this one — I want to hear it performed as loudly as a revival service!

  10. Deb says:

    Fabulous use of words to evoke and invoke passion and place. *So* much to enjoy here.

  11. wayne says:

    very nice use of words….indeed sensual…thanks for sharing this

  12. Sam says:

    This is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I love the sweeping from deity to desire.

  13. Pingback: December Edition of Poetry Super Highway Wordwide Open ReadingOnline Now! « Raven’s Wing Poetry

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