They took his belt and shoes, and led him in,
The barred door rumbling back then slamming shut;
Its clap, so brief and final, shook his gut
And echoed off the bunks of bolted tin.
Through sickly bands of gilded light he’d been
Lifted by pinioned arms in silence, but
He felt his head come round as steel cuffs cut
Lines roseate and stinging in the skin.
His brain still clouded, he could not be sure
What he had done or swallowed hours before,
But jaw and shoulder ached, and swollen eyes read
All that was written on him through this lapse,
To piece the night together and, perhaps,
Remember if the other guy were dead.
James Matthew Wilson is a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, whose work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2018. He has published nine books, with a tenth, The Strangeness of the Good, forthcoming in 2020. Associate Professor of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University, he serves also as Director of the Colosseum Institute, Poetry Editor of Modern Age magazine, and as Poet-in-Residence of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy.