Again I Am Born Again


Lord I have eaten and I think I won't

anymore eat      / Animals

many times my weight / In animals


enough that were they resurrected and combined

Like the heroic robot       in that cartoon I somehow always missed

And always looked       forward to as a child


Lord they would be an animal / Finally too big to kill

Except by You who would

Shatter the sky and hurl the burning blue whale-sized shards down to do it


Lord even though You wouldn't have to break the sky to do it

And I accept I need to be reminded

I can't escape responsibility


for being the kind of creature that requires signs Lord from You

Merely by now refusing to participate

in the killing of some of the sometimes instruments through which Your signs / Pass


as they pass through every creature       Lord and every object You I know

Killing the animal too big to kill would be a sign

And I accept I can't escape being grateful for Your signs


Being the kind of creature

that requires Your signs       / Because You Lord have made me wondrous

Beginning with my always I imagine it to be


an ugly mush but really it's

I think I've read       / Harder than that

brain and the thinking it might someday do


Because Lord I might someday think

Until that day and after       I require signs / Lord and I can't escape

being grateful for Your signs


Because my body not my brain responds to them       and You I know

Killing the animal too big to kill would be a sign

Lord as I took it for a sign


When fifteen years ago I prayed to be convinced

and drove to the monastery in Mount Angel and

The two tall firs


across from each other on either side of the narrow road to the monastery

Were struck by lightning

rare Oregon lightning on a barely misting afternoon


And fell across the road and Lord I couldn't leave

I took it for a sign       and I believed

And that was when       the moment when       I understand the language now


The moment I was born again

The moment I believed I

Had seen God kill for me


Lord was the moment I became a human being

As You I know

killing the animal too big to kill would be a sign


Mary of Bethany Massages His Feet with Perfume Worth What a Worker Makes in a Year


I would have Lord       as Judas did       wondered and maybe if

I had been brave       as Judas was

I might have said       / Something about it why the


Perfume Mary massaged Your feet with wasn't / Instead

sold and the money given to the poor

A few years back I worked Lord       in a factory making


parts for truck       / Engines I think       I wasn't sure then and I'm not sure now

I didn't mind the work       except the standing hurt my feet

It got so bad eventually I had to quit


I was a temp       anyway and I didn't       care what the boss thought / I didn't

know who the boss was but

I didn't want to disappoint the agency


still / Eventually it got so bad I had to quit

But at the last station I worked       for the first time I got to sit

Nobody told me Lord I could


Nobody told me Lord I couldn't I just grabbed a stool and sat

Like anything I made there Lord I couldn't tell You now what

The name of the thing I made there was


But sparks flew from the machine and burned my forearms

past my gloves       / And Lord       I didn't mind the sparks I got to sit

I got to sit       Lord at that station for I think


a good ten minutes       / Before a worker I had never met

Threw her gloves down and walked from her

Station across the floor       / To tell me not to sit on my ass anymore


And then she walked off somewhere disappeared in the pallet stacks

I hadn't said       anything back       / Or honestly I might have said Okay

Not drawn out       quick and scared


She was the only woman I ever saw

close to my age on the floor

After she disappeared       / A man who worked at her station at


her table slithered       over asked me       / What she had said

and said she was a bitch       and told me not to worry

But after that I didn't sit


That was the day I quit       / I tell You now I know it Lord it love is truly is

Stronger than hate

Only for those who can afford it



On the First Day of the Last Week of His Life Jesus Overturns the Tables of the Money-Changers

For John Gallaher


I wrote to a friend       yesterday and told him my new poems were

About or I was trying to say

Something about       money to God


I think       and I don't understand it why I think it Lord You don't

Understand money

but of course You do       / And maybe even


Lord if You were You You       on Earth used money maybe You

Didn't just overturn the tables of the money-changers

Maybe You sometimes ached to not


Lord have enough for even a few figs       / Maybe You hated figs and always had or always the

Conditioned always of Your time here

hated figs       / And maybe figs were usually


The cheapest food available and still You sometimes didn't have enough

Maybe You suffered in Your body first the suffering of in Your body Lord

Inhabiting Your poverty


Maybe Your body Lord was shaped by foods You hated

Maybe You sometimes walking to the market / Felt everybody even only

for a moment       / Glancing at You


knew Lord You lived on figs

Lord and You hated figs and always had

And on the day You overturned the tables of the money-changers


You also cursed       a fig tree never to produce       / Fruit again

because You had come to it hungry Lord

and found it barren



Shane McCrae is the author of Mule, Blood, Forgiveness Forgiveness, The Animal Too Big to Kill, and three chapbooks. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Best American Poetry, Seattle Review, Pleiades, LIT and elsewhere, and he has received a Whiting Writer’s Award and a fellowship from the NEA. He teaches at Oberlin College and in the brief-residency MFA program at Spalding University.