By Sean Gunning
See chains of hundreds of humans clicking
up and down a tilted quilt of sunlit light and dark
green lawns, and shaded asphalt paths and hills,
like a freight train churning, turning, climbing;
and another working down—embarking and disembarking—
all lubed in salt, in a snaking, constant mill.
Picture beads of sweat on close-shorn heads that slip
down necks, and channel lines down cheeks,
and sneak inside lust-concealing so-so smiles;
and see a sea of lapping nubile skin to wet the lips
and test the mettle of the faithful meek—
boys named Dave and Zach, and Esteban, and Miles.
And picture in the center of this two-way mass,
this campus church of multi-cultural scholars,
the swaying hip of some sultry thing;
and taste, in haste, temptation in the crevice
of that angled bone; and dismiss the horror
in the scream of the gentle breeze of Gethsemane.
For to resist the au jus taste of lust
for the boring bread and wine is hard,
and to divine how best to see and think and dine
when we are made to crave and crave, requires a trust
and an unrelenting, unyielding guard
of the purest, noblest, Gawain kind.
Now don’t for one minute think I’m some pious soul
selling backpacks full of sanctimonious certainty;
some Cal State preacher-boy with a dog-eared bible.
No. Know instead, I’m just like you. One lump of coal
to fuel CSULB, one man amidst the sea
of skin trying to look within; and not your moral rival.
Originally published in Long Beach, California—Past, Present & Future: The Anthology.