Poetry: Tibetan Monk Shot While on Fire

04/07/2010 4:00 AM |

Tibetan Monk Shot While on Fire

I can’t talk about God. I can only talk about distance
from the sun—

near enough to warm us,
not close
enough to kill us.

Incredible as the atoms
surging through the bed I share with wonder and somehow
the Old Testament tucked under
my pillow, a bookmark

a friend gave me
that says unputdownable

stuck halfway through Genesis.
I get bored with
all the begetting, end

up drunk with questions
on your porch again, eluding party

guests and glaring at the blue

cataract of the sky.
I have science, I have Shakespeare

and I’m young and it’s enough.
It’s hard to believe
in a place where every day

is your birthday and it’s always a surprise party

and you are always
surprised. Heaven seems

a lot like Groundhog Day.
I feel the universe
as it expands

with the walls of my taut chest—
I can’t talk about God.

I can only talk about distance
between our dry hands, twitching.

Caitlin Cowan is a second-year MFA Poetry student at The New School. Born and raised in Michigan, Caitlin graduated from The University of Michigan in 2004, where she won an Avery Hopwood Award for her manuscript, The Taste of Tomatoes. She is currently preparing her thesis, which explores collage poetry and the found language of magazines. Her work has appeared in Crate, The Offbeat, Fortnight Literary Review, Xylem, and The Claremont Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

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