Disclaimer: if you are easily offended by non-religious depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary or satirical literature in which she appears, then do not read this poem. Otherwise, keep reading.
You’ve got a couple of millennia on me,
said the Lizard King to the Virgin Queen
as they sat, little lotuses on Forever’s clouds.
How did you learn to live with being
reconstructed from stardust mined
from the backs of their eyes?
I didn’t, the Queen replied,
her brow buckling a little underneath
her hefty crown of star-streaked minarets.
But I can’t in good conscience turn away
their love. Water-veined and sun-drenched,
they bloom and sing perfume. Else,
they die in their own darkness.
I think I understand, Jim said.
For forty years, I’ve seen their
graffiti prayers and poems of praise.
They think I’m a saint, never mind
that my skin, riddled with sin of every kind,
lies in testament to my excesses
for anyone with an inquiring mind
or an Internet connection to find.
Some forget that I was even skin-born.
They do that to me too, said Mary.
I’ve been pressed in stone, written
into roses, inhaled into Technicolor visions
that never stop; I’ve been sung to,
breathed into poems, and taught
as lesson to the fresh-eyed child and
the priest to be. As she finished speaking,
she reached up to her head mantled
in cornflower and pinprick starlight,
gingerly lifted up her golden royal albatross,
and set it down beside her. You should
consider yourself lucky, kid, she said.
You only have a scrawled-over gravesite,
an empty hotel room littered with love,
forty years of poems, songs, and fan-fic,
and a couple of statues to your count.
That’s true, Jim replied. It could be worse.
But at least your best icon isn’t shirtless
with a bold print stare into forever.
You did that to yourself, Mary chuckled.
Jim laughed, his eyes stealing a gleam
from the waterfall cloud lights above. I
suppose I did. And now I can’t get rid of
the thing. That image follows me with
a mass of disciples, imprinted ducks
wearing me inside their hearts.
And have you seen the tattoos?
I have, said Mary. But you ought to see
the ones of me. It’s just ridiculous.
They keep saying you appear to them,
Jim said, unfolding his slinky black leather legs
and dangling his sharp-booted feet over the
cloud’s edge. What would you say
to them if you had the chance?
I don’t like pedestals, she replied.
I don’t blame you, Jim said.
Neither do I.
© 2013 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem was written for We Write Poems Bonus December Prompt #1: Tradition. I asked people to meditate about the word “tradition” and to write about it, in whatever direction it takes them.
I decided that with the Immaculate Conception normally being celebrated on December 8, and with Jim Morrison’s birthday being December 8 (he would have been 70 tomorrow), I thought it would be fitting to write a kind of tongue-in-cheek poem where their two realities intersect. I thought about the different ways in which people commemorate, and even venerate the two. (Have you seen pictures of Morrison’s gravesite? It’s unbelievable.) No disrespect meant to the Blessed Mother — or to Jim, for that matter.