When it comes to revelation (and other poems)

When it come to revelation,

laying bare
what was heretofore unknown,

I’ll bet you’d be

as amazed as I at a stingray skeleton,
cartilaginous and regal.

All that internal structure feathers out

where flesh once glided
through, around, the plume of framework.

It looks like

an intricate headdress meant to adorn
the pate of a king

or a queen in a country that depends

so much upon the sea,
that inner architecture,

those leftover pieces

able to lie
in stasis for millions of years,

turn to stone

under drifts of sediment.
We keep digging them up like memories.

We use chisels to chip away

the past, brushes to sweep away
bygone dust.

Nothing could be as radiant as these

divergent quills.
Think of them, if you will, furling

in waves, moving

the body that must eventually

Oh, Prometheus,

                                                I sigh
with knowledge of fire and desire,
                                                which are
sometimes one and the same.  You
                                                are one
of those naked gods at odds with
                                                each other,

all rustle and tussle.  I’d love to know
possessed you to reach into clay
                                                and create
humankind, run your hands across
                                                every body
to give it life.  No wonder you mean

                                                so much
to me, all that intimacy at your finger-
                                                tips.  Why
don’t you touch me now like it’s the
of the world?  I vow to accept the inferno
                                                you bring,

lightning, flint rock, that odd two-stick
                                                trick of friction,
smolder, spark, and flame.  I know
                                                I sound
promiscuous, wound up with passion
                                                for your intellect,
your prankster ways.  I don’t know

                                                what’s wrong
with me, always falling for your chiseled
                                                good looks,
made of marble, me of clay.  Every day
                                                I fantasize
about running my fingers through your
                                                locks ablaze,

my hands scorched in your tangles.  Every
a cloth dangles across your leg and over
                                                your conflagration.
I wish I’d been there to tend your injuries,
                                                under chains
not even a god could escape, that eagle

                                                leaving you
agape on that rock of punishment.  I doubt
                                                it will give you
any comfort, but I would have done the same.
                                                I would have
stolen the gift of heat and light, even with
                                                its curse.

But I’ve never had to endure an eternity
                                                of torture,
an infinity of screaming at the heavens.
                                                I could
bring you ointments and salves, tinctures
                                                and elixirs,
but these can only soothe your flesh, when

                                                what you need
is a moment of forethought, which is not
I can provide.  The sun is risen once again,
                                                and the eagle
is ready to tear into your side.  If I could
                                                make love

to you and take away your pain, I would
                                                bring you
that firestorm, a pyre built upon fennel,
                                                which is
what brought us here, wisdom, wildfire.
                        With Burning

You Can See, in Places

Red-tunic breast, blue-scarfed head,
yellow-epaulet shoulders, the painted bunting
looks as though it sprung
from a child’s imagination, those primary colors
smeared upon a canvas. The sun

is a flower in the eastern corner. Branches angle in
from the edge, implying a tree
just out of sight. Smoky swirls drift cumulus
over pale watercolor stripes of sky.
A band of green is the earth. You can see,

in places, where the sky and the earth
thinly overlap. Refrigerators all over town
become aviaries for resplendent wings.
Not a masterpiece, but showy, imagine a flock
in the wild, their piccolo songs

looping through leaves. Listen closely,
you can hear insects whir and buzz
and chatter, a chorus to tell the story of children
who disappeared from here
with their paintings of birds.

You are a full-bodied blush

with black wings, scarlet honeyeater,
looking like you got caught.

Have you been thieving
the sweetest nectar again?

I’m reminded of the Lotus Eaters,
how luxury is its own addiction,

how the practical world crumbles
when it is neglected.

What do you neglect?
Not these shaggy blossoms.

Not these fringes where beauty resides.
Do you wait until dew rises

from leaves, or are you constantly
compelled toward that syrupy ambrosia?

Did you know you were partaking
of the food of the gods? Don’t worry,

they no longer sup of earthly concerns.
Perhaps I was wrong, and you are

red with anger, burning all over.
Or maybe you are so filled

with desire your feathers take on
a lusty tint. I’m going to fly home

to my love, to the nest we share
in this life, where we can whisper

our affections, make the gods
regret they ever left us, this long, alone.


  • David B. Prather is the author of WE WERE BIRDS from Main Street Rag Publishing (2019). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, The Literary Review, and many others. He studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. He lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

  • The Los Angeles Alligator Farm (ca. 1907.) From 1907 until its relocation in 1953, the area of Lincoln Heights was home to what the Los Angeles Times dubbed “the city’s most exotic residents”--a thousand-strong collection of alligators that welcomed visitors every day of the year to see, pose with, and even ride them. Alligator postcard (1910s)from Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. From Public Domain Review