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March 2, 2018


The following poem comes from the Ancient Paths archives. It was originally published in Issue 5 (Fall 2000). 


by Corbet Dean



When you’re overcome by the fumes
of this dying town,
convulsing in soot,
    gasping on the ground,
for consolation,
locked down
    after 10 PM,
    in your cold, quiet cage
    of desperation,
tell me, what do you believe in?


Now that all the pretty, polished Hallmark verse
you memorized and rehearsed
just broke down,
how will you get around town?


Like a ‘74 Grand Prix,
your volume and vibration
sounds good enough to believe,
but that shiny car never takes you very far
before it belches
big, black clouds of humiliation
for your to taste
at every intersection.
Now tell me, what do you believe in?


I don’t want to talk myself into truth:
I know that nothing becomes true
or majestically moves you
just because you close your eyes to recite some lies
over . . . and over . . . and over . . .


That’s why
I want to believe like the holy roller,
like the "go tell it on the mountain,"
born again, baptizer of men
who spits with tongues of fire
and rises to walk
with a dance of desire
all over the density in the darkness
of our secret sins . . .


So tell me, what do you believe in?


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