X.J. Kennedy



                  First Confession


Blood thudded in my ears, I scuffed,
      Steps stubborn, to the telltale booth
Beyond whose curtained portal coughed
      The robed repositor of truth.

The slat shot back. The universe
      Bowed down his cratered dome to hear
Enumerated my each curse,
      The sip snitched from my old man's beer,

My sloth pride envy lechery,
      The dime held back from Peter's Pence
With which I'd bribed my girl to pee
      That I might spy her instruments.

Hovering scale-pans when I'd done
      Settled their balance slow as silt
While in the restless dark I burned
      Bright as a brimstone in my guilt

Until as one feeds birds he doled
      Seven Our Fathers and a Hail
Which I to double-scrub my soul
      Intoned twice at the altar rail

Where Sunday in seraphic light
      I knelt, as full of grace as most,
And stuck my tongue out at the priest:
      A fresh roost for the Holy Ghost.


X.J. Kennedy, In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New
and Selected Poems 1955-2007, The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2007.