Madonna of Paremoremo

In prison I thumb

The Agony and the Ecstasy.

At the hour of rite,

I turn Michelangelo face-down,

offer Maori woman and child

coffee without violence,

biscuit with no ice terror;

we do not discuss their crimes.

For one hour a week,

the ordinary and the unthinkable,

unchiseled skin and ta moko.

They do not know or care of Florence –

who are the Medicis, anyway? –

yet it breaks my heart when he leaves,

her babe in his arms,

and tears cloud her marble eyes –

highly grained, low grade.


(First published in The Miscreant, Issue 9C, 2016.)