Joe Hall

Slush Altar


What is a lamb?


Do you take from slaughter? Is what you want to regard


Yourself debased by a system of yourself?


Why am I riding into the desert with


A president’s model head on my head and last call


Puke on my diamond shoes? Do I follow


The thing rising through time crushed


Into tilted soil—shapes lost, material changing


The altar a toothpick crane astride a crane on fire


And the unlike-me-guy voted from the reality polis


By carrion birds with crazy genitals


They hate riddles and mystifiers


That’s why those scientists nailed you down, you gripped


The burning buzzers in each wrist


Pilate straightened his tie and asked


Is that your final answer? Lord


I don’t know what I see: a rat maze


Of smoke, the architecture of a tree


Bringing to my body what I can know, denser


Than a star folding into itself—between two witnesses


Distance is the only objective phenomena


And aging is a physical experiment each person performs


Alone—yes, book, I will die


While you accelerate toward  


The margins of the universe, a particle of thought, growing


Younger, sitting on a powder blue stool, eating Mary Lou’s donuts


Unable to grind or contemplate or weep


Or let your ass flap in the breeze, unable


To add or subtract in the preservation of these slender brackets


Writing themselves out in the theatre  


Air, the altar—an allowance


Of space where blood rusts


A stone, a bone fragment


A field, the silence of a derelict warehouse


Mr. Bumpy Fruit, Mr. Wasteland


Mr. Let’s Call It Fallow


Bent tool in stripped screw?


Little error script


Little twisted limb











Ghost Farm


And there is a whale corpse sailing overhead


And there is its torn mouth











Ghost Farm III


Lord, eat your way through me, a pin, a needle


A blade of soil twisted into softness widening


Threshold, ruptured flame


Excess of physical pain, this all in the


Game or crisis in the stolen ghost—you scorch


The memory of yourself, roll away the stone


And don’t care where the virgin copulates


With the ulcerated moon—Coneflowers


In the crisp predawn wind pulling through the forest


Your breath steaming the air, cum on the leaves


Rapture of the corn worm in a cauliflower head


Mosquito rising to fur—Everything lost


Is found, everything found dumped


Mother’s queuing to take their sons’ bodies down


In the stone cavity, among the discarded shrouds


Gazing offscreeen, the moths


All up in my clothes, smeared across the inner-windows


Trying not to follow an apostle’s red eyes, see the trees exploding


Through the blinds, the lightning stripe of abstraction


Dividing the forest then green now black


I drive over the same dead possum every day this week


I burned it many times but still carry the altar with me  











Shrine Vow


Our Lady of Brezje, Mary of Orante


You were prayed over twenty-four hours, in shifts


By clerks, a Dunkin’ Donuts baker, the vice


Pesident of an insurance company’s regional branch


Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Mother of Good Council


Blessed Sacrament—You say, yes


Let us come closer, antlers flowering


From our heads, more bones to crash and tangle


In the journey to the stable


In Bethlehem to calf a suicide—We come closer


In that climb—You say, lets get married


Up to Calvary, Queen of Missions, Good Voyage


Our Lady of the Catacombs


What is marriage? The hand that carves you


That pulls the thread through your gown


Of translucent golden Algerian onyx


A solid block weighing 5,000 lbs













There was a beast descending from a satellite





There was a red slash in the name of the sky





There was a deer with no skin singing on the carousel





There was a crown, There was a crown, There was a crown