Jesus the Low Rider

Original Text: 
VillainElle (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1994): 55-56.
take a little trip
take a little trip with me
2swaying below the porchlight and his halo of moths,
3I smell the wine on his breath and I feel
5I release the chain and fall into his arms,
6again. his cheeks are comely with rows of
8he wears an iron cross, a confederate
9bandanna and his chain whips clamour,
10they sting my fingers when I undress him.
11the soles of his motorcycle boots are
12the cartography of his absences, each run,
13each time he leaves I swear it is the last time.
14as the door slams and I sweep the glass and
15splinters, his temper is epic and desperate:
16I love an outlaw
17who talks about betrayal in his sleep,
18his hands rake the sheets and I cleanse
19them, with tears. in the morning
20I hear the Apostles circling, their
21high raked mufflers are stormclouds
22that portend my loss, my loneliness.
23Christ, I am desolate without him.
24he bakes loaves of bread in high
27bike. its suicide clutch and chrome rails
28shine with water and vinegar, there
29is a prophetic grammar in their
30dagger design. I see the crash that
31kills him, the rain soaked road,
32his stillness. I see myself
33in shadow, resurrecting him. I
34have the gospel lettered on my
35forearms, in gold and green.
36I have learned to live with sorrow,
37and I am a believer. Jesus kisses
38me, hard on each cheek, before he
39turns, and rides away.

Notes

1] From "Low Rider" (1975), a song by the renowned R & B group, War, the lyrics to which are:
All my friends know the low rider
The low rider is a little higher

The low rider drives a little slower
Low rider is a real goer

Hey

Low rider knows every street, yeah
Low rider is the one to meet, yeah

Low rider don't use no gas now
The low rider don't drive too fast

Take a little trip, take a little trip
Take a little trip and see
Take a little trip, take a little trip
Take a little trip with me

Low riders are (often souped-up) cars or motorcycles whose wheels have been modified so that the driver can lower them closer to the road, making the ride rather more exciting. (Identification courtesy of Victoria Rubley.) Back to Line
4] Jesus' words at the last supper (Mathew 26.28). Back to Line
7] Song of Solomon 1.10. Back to Line
25] oilcloth: 'oilcoth' in original. Back to Line
26] burial shroud, kept in Turin Cathedral, with the image of a man crucified, thought to be Christ but datable no earlier than 1354. Inexplicably, the image is a negative formed by dehydrative acid oxidation. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Lynn Crosbie or Coach House Press permissions department.</b>