Ohio Deathbed, 1990


Read by the author

Who will heal Jesus
blind in his bed
his hands dried up
like rare birds in a museum

Feathers faded under klieg lights and scrutiny
offer no consolation to the poor
gathered outside the garden gate
made by Joseph when his son was a boy

That was before the child went away
about his business

not knowing what it was
not knowing the cost of doing business
not knowing each flavor of hopelessness

not knowing what to say when the clinic called
not knowing what to do when his boyfriend
died not knowing you could be
too tired to cry not knowing Eliot
was right about April

He so easily let go
of never seeing Paris or publishing a book
but he couldn’t shake the panic when he thought he might
never again smell freshly turned wood
or listen to country music on the kitchen radio

so he went home
where the nurses wouldn’t touch him
but old Joseph cradled him in an unfinished manger

—For David Kirby and family

Greg Marzullo is an award-winning writer and journalist who has written for the Washington Blade, Lambda Literary and the Phoenix New Times, among other publications. He won a Society for Professional Journalists award for arts criticism and secured a semi-finalist place in the Tucson Festival of Books for his poetry in 2017 and 2018. Poetry publications include Origins Literary Journal, Bayou Magainze and HIV Here & Now.

Image Credit: “Undulations,” Jury S. Judge

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