James Simmons

John Donne

          "There's more to style than honesty"

When you lost touch with lovers' bare skin
how could the textures not get thin
in your verse. The real blood the fleas sucked
that sang through your and her veins when you fucked
was lost for God's magic bargain drops,
and life was teasing torture, nice when it stops.
Genius is tempted to ingenious lying,
to brazening out betrayal, justifying
such acts as that old interfering kind
forced you toward. You  could do anything!

After a brave attempt to marry free,
gaoled and neglected, you chose piety,
turned an encrusted back on sweet enjoyment
and -- fuck you, John -- made love to your employment
improvising belief after the fact,
acting in bad faith, living the act,
faking a hot lust for the Holy Ghost!
I dare dispute because I loved you most.
They'll say I want you to write more like me,
with truly liberal consistency:

but your young self, your verse, condemns defection
from the erection to the resurrection,
bullying congregations like a bawd
for Him, then grovelling. Gawd!
It was a difficult position,
like Galileo's with the Inquisition;
but he at least had grace to stay indoors
and not make weapons for the torturers.
You, having once made such a lovely fuss
on Love's behalf, betrayed her, worse than us.



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