things that kept me awake


© 2002 by Tommi Avicolli Mecca


no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t close

my eyes without recounting every sin

did I lie

did I cheat

did my glance at Sal diGiorno linger

“down there” where god never intended eyes to go

devil lured me into alleys with boys

into pages of forbidden books

into dark theaters where the mere sight

of exposed cleavage or bared breasts

left indelible stains on my soul

that could only be cleansed

by confessing to father in his wooden box

the ad infinitum of 

“bless me father for I have sinned”

temptation was everywhere

in the toweled torsos of adolescent boys in gym

in history class where Sal slid down in his seat

legs spread

a near occasion of sin so close

I couldn’t think of anything else

sister said we picked up the hammer

drove in the nails every time we had bad thoughts

poor bloodied jesus never free from his cross

it didn’t matter

devil lived in a world I craved more and more

finally grabbing Sal under the table

it became a ritual

every afternoon after school

even when we had no homework

falling deeper and deeper into pleasures

that kept me awake nights

reciting my act of contrition

if jesus died to quell that perpetual aching

he died in vain


poem © 2002,  artwork © 1983 by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, originally performed with Diatribe, a performance troupe in SF