Filial

by William James

for Jacob Bannon, Jeffrey Eaton, Pat Flynn, Aaron Bedard, Sean Murphy, etc.

Punk rock kids might not all believe in god,
but we all every one of us believe in loud—

our favorite benediction: If it’s too loud, you’re
too old, & we race forward in cacophony, future

hearing loss be damned, because the hot fuzz
hum & crackle of the first time the guitar plugs in

carries us away on beating wings, & it ain’t like
we got some golden chariot to sweep us into heaven

so we seek out glory where we can—the rasp of
a singer barking like a pack of wild dogs, guitar

strings marionetting us into our own hallelujah
while the drums beat, pound, & chisel our granite

bodies like a master sculptor, carving away the excess,
all our unnecessary rock, ’til we are flawless,

our hands reaching up as if to pray, to call down
fire from on high, & the volume from the PA

melts away our imperfections & our sins. Punk kids
may not all believe in god, but we believe in loud.

Believe in the inferno. Our haunted houses
burned down by sweat-drenched angels in Christ

pose, handing out blessing with every passed mic
or shared chorus, our litany of banshee screams

no less sacred than the holiest of psalms.

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