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THE NATIVITY

The yellow fog curls around me like damp fur.
I search the pockets of my overcoat
for some gloves, but find only
an envelope. I open it and read:
"You will slouch toward Bethlehem.
You will whimper."

I stand at the door and knock.
Gabriel the Bouncer opens the slit
and examines my stigmata.
"You'll have to check your
Breviary," he says.
I enter the cathedral and genuflect.

The waitress with no arms
places a napkin on my writing-desk.
"India ink," I say, "straight, no chaser."
I unzip my fly, dip my penis in the ink.
My first grade teacher glares at me
as she adjusts her wimple.

The bell rings.
I kneel at the rail.
Father O'Malley stands in front of me
and brandishes the Host.
"Corpus Delicti," he says.
He places it on my outstretched tongue.
The acolyte in the hockey mask
holds a machete under my chin.
I pant with joy and salivate.

I return to my desk,
falling down three times.
Angels ride up and down
escalators of sunlight
as I caress my Underwood.
I pound out Cantos with my hooves,
braying Salve Reginas and Pater Nosters.
Gabriel throws me out for disturbing the peace.

Two roads diverge in a yellow wood.
They both look exactly the same.
"Some people do go both ways," says the Scarecrow.
I lie down in the middle of the crossroads
and curl up into a ball, weeping,
waiting to be born
and swaddled.

      — Doug Westberg