Monday, September 26, 2011

Sign of Offense

Someone's placed
a black cross in the white P
of the Au Bon Pain cafe sign:
thin lines of paint or tar.
The crowds
don't see it,
rushing to and from
the subway.
On their impatient faces
memory's an infinite series
of entries
in a schedule book
that's always
just half full.

Profane Eucharist,
stamp of faith,
maybe those who follow
the crucified convict
etched it there:
The man on Fifth Avenue
who speaks on "the plight
of the black man,"
or "the touch
of a woman that will tempt you
the wrong way."
Or the Jamaican woman
gulping angrily
as she speaks in the Spirit
to the teeth of the crowd.

I've known what brings them
to the circus to face
the wolves. The apocalyptic
stench in the air
taunts uneasy
fingers strumming money's guitar.
Sin rides the backs
of thousand dollar suits,
IPOs, stock options.

The sign of offense
traces God's silence
in the tunnels and invokes the fear
of unendurable pain.
The walls split
in sorrow
like an abscess breaking
over our chests.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All Rights reserved.


  1. I love that all of this arose from a sign for Au Bon Pain, of all things. I particularly like the woman speaking to the teeth of the crowd. Well done!

  2. this is just frickin' awesome how you connect all the dots to a picture we can see...and esp. the last line took my breath away..the walls splitting like an abscess...ugh...awesome

  3. or it could just be a T Pain reference you know...smiles...haha...sorry, i should be more serious...the abscess breaking at the end is a viceral thing you know....i see these people...and i know all too many walk on by...and some i will honestly say i do for the way they speak...those that condemn rather than reach you know...

  4. Bravo charles. I particularly like " Sin rides the backs of thousand dollar suits"- brilliantly done

  5. Symbols are powerful things--perhaps more so than even actions, or what people choose to say--you bind these three tropes together and use them as the scourge their present reality makes them--the light of clarity, or Faith, or Reason itself, showing the crude devil's pantomime we're playing with ourselves. The last stanza is good beyond measure.

  6. For far too many years money has become the new God. It certainly seems to be worshiped more than anything else these days.
    Gripping read, gets right to the nitty gritty truth which most of us turn a blind eye to because it suits us better not to have to look.

  7. Powerful and thought provoking... rich in truth, that will reamain truth despite the "Sin rides the backs of thousand dollar suits"


  8. i like how the crowds don't see it, but we are stopping to see it's really cool.

    religion is everywhere and it's all about power and money, and suppression and really nothing good can come of it.

    radiation rampage

  9. "I've known what brings them to the circus to face
    the wolves. The apocalyptic stench in the air
    taunts uneasy fingers strumming money's guitar. "
    That's quite a line, and a really great ending. Nice write !!

  10. Strong imagery as always.

    Monster closing stanza as well. Leaves a lasting impact.

  11. I like your take on faith and signs of offense...the last stanza is specially lovely ~

  12. Chivalric imagery found in a modern city. The history of faith, of history, of culture dwells among us. Symbols live!

  13. I loved the quiet observation in the opening of this, the small detail spotted that is missed by everyone else, very nicely done. So much richness and diversity throughout the rest.

  14. Reading this and saying to myself, yeah, uh-huh, very good, oh, terrific....and then comes that killer last stanza which I will never get out of my head. That capped it for me. The walls splitting in abscess opening on my chest. Tremendous impact here and superb imagry !

  15. sharp language in this, the last lines especially go through the gut... visceral.

  16. Powerful words! I read this as an anthem of anger for the disenfranchised. In the background, I hear Simon and Garfunkel singing "the words of the profit are written on the subway walls..."

  17. Like how you write about urban spirituality, or its constant lack. I'm getting your drift.

  18. Wow, the whole thing was magnificent but that last stanza, unadulterated poetry!