Norms of Piety


Another way to say it is that God is
the details. Take, for example,
the mortar beneath my feet. Take
the intricacies of what holds me together.
Bladder and spleen. Salt-worn liver.
Take the average rainfall of this city
and the average time I spend watering
myself down at the bar—
To hold all of that
in mind is to go beyond the self, meaning
the devil is in the snooze button.
Numerary means of a number, but also to decrease
yourself to an absolute value resembling nothing
between the cast iron bars of a jail cell.
Empty-tipsy; the withhold somewhat erotic.
I learned to love the slight weight of the rosary
beads swinging at my hip. The way Latin
declined in a manner that I could memorize
but never make my own. I hungered for the tear
of cilice at flesh, for the whip of discipline
the duration of three Our Fathers, arms outstretched.


Diminishing requires the daily practice
of breaking your own heart: to think of God
first thing in the morning, last thing before
bed. To ignore the seductive loneliness of your rib
once removed foundering on its own desire. Come
find me. Come find me, it says.
They say Pax. You
reply In aeternum to all the chatter, but eternity
is just another expression for your lack
of satisfaction. So you strike your own breast,
a gesture that this heart is your own—
roughly parsed as I neglected to master the task
of breaking it. Genitive. Apologies.

John Fenlon Hogan works as a Research Manager at The Costar Group. His poems are forthcoming in Boston Review, Colorado Review, The Journal, Vinyl, and elsewhere. He's an RGIII devotee. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761