What Rough Beast | Poem for November 28, 2017

Daniel Nester
To the Protest Song Industry in Crisis

Don’t say you’re praying unless
you’re really praying. You’re talking
about unheard melodies, as if
we could yap them into construction.
But Jesus, sweet mother of
monkey milk, we’re playing a seated dance,
we’ve already run out of the truth.
They take away our hands, they storm out front,
they fail to stammer. (And this roughhouse
aside—the heart of a shiny belt, those basic bitch
hidden gods. Stay away from pooh-poohers
who say today’s tunes are a worthless cause.
No gossip magazine can blot out our complaints.)

Don’t giggle when the hot stick pokes your haunch—
stare forward, like a bouldered calf.
Their quiet-car ears will sense a rhythm,
a rhythm of—do you hear it?—sweet mimicry.
And it will wreck them every time.
And they will take all the parts that make it divine,
sprung from Glories we see every day,
and somehow make it even worse.
As trollable as any religion without design or myth.
This is not such a bad thing, El Bandito.
We’ve got our instresses swinging.
So yell out any dish-number—you’ll run it right there, baby pop.
We’re all siblings now. We were siblings before
this horrible accident, and we’ll be siblings mopping up.
Let God’s love ruin it. And God’s love always ruins it.


Daniel Nester is the author of Shader: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, and Other Unlearnable Subjects (99: The Press, 2015), How to Be Inappropriate (Soft Skull Press, 2009), God Save My Queen: A Tribute (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and God Save My Queen II: The Show Must Go On (Soft Skull Press, 2004). He is the editor of The Incredible Sestina Anthology (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012). Nester teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.

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