We Will Gather for a Martyrdom by Robert Beveridge

“He had written about the way newspaper used to be, and the way organized crime in Philadelphia used to be, before somebody put a shotgun in Angelo Bruno’s ear and blew away all the order and dignity and discipline organized crime had. That was when the drugs came into it—the old man never allowed it—and the next thing you knew, motorcycle gangs and guys like Charlie Piscoli were doing family business.” –Pete Dexter, God’s Pocket

 

What I was saying

was the cold is more our friend

than fire.

The cold preserves what we are

where the fire destroys—

no, not destroys, transforms—us.

 

You said, for the third time,

that we had been preserved

for too long, It has been years,

you said, eons, even. Transformation

would be a joy. Even reformation

would be welcome. Would be preferable

to this.

 

And you did it again, sold your autobiography to Golgotha Press

for a quarter-mil and royalties,

nailed yourself up for the world

to see. And when the review

came out, exposing

the pieces you’d conveniently woven

from motley fabric and skin thread,

you laughed and reveled

in the increased sales.

 

When they came to look at you,

naked and scourged,

when they paid the $18.95 admission charge

and gawked upon your red nudity,

you smiled and posed for pictures.

It wasn’t until later

that you felt the freeze begin

and work its inevitable way

through your extremities.

 

From your cross

you can only watch

as I set fire

to my robes.

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