David Spicer


Final Verse by Fabrice Poussin


                        I am thoroughly guilty in a long life.

—Jim Harrison


A lapsed Catholic boy, I fucked up early on.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, I whispered

to the priest on the mesh’s other side.

It’s been seven days since my last confession, and

I’ve committed the following sins.


Guilty of believing I could accept Catholic

ideas of sin. Guilty I kowtowed to my mother’s demand.

I believe in her God. Guilty of rolling my eyes

at the catechism teacher whose class I attended

before I ate supper. You hate it here, don’t you?

Guilty of loving your green eyes in sixth-grader Belinda Berry,

my first crush, Guilty of memorizing her until now,

Guilty of knowing I’d meet and discover you and what you

owned: Belinda Berry’s green eyes, you waiting, not seeing

I was that punk who loved your eyes in Belinda Berry’s face.




Of jacking-off in a five-foot-high alfalfa field

in the middle of Memphis after I delivered

The Press Scimitar in the afternoon. That first

time, my jism kissed those flowers, felt better

than angels’ wings out of reach in church.

My parents found me guilty of scrabbling

the word rape to my sister a few months later.

There’s no such thing. said Darlene. Is too, I said.

Go ask Uncle Roy if you don’t believe me.

She did. Belt-lashed, denied my Friday whiting.

Guilty of busting my father’s small jaw and pale red lips

after one too many beatings bent over the bathtub.

He shamed me, saying, You proud of yourself? Guilty of not respecting him, not slugging him sooner. Proud of never bashing him or anyone again. Guilty.

I liked music, spent dishwasher money on records.

Hunted dope: no pot, no hash, so dramamine. Guilty.

Stole Farmer’s Market watermelons, stoned, spit out

seeds from my dorm window, guilty of spawning babies

in the grass the following Fall. Guilty of yelling, Hot damn!

And I love guilty pleasures: chocolate-covered cashews

and champagne, a Neruda book of love poems before hogs

ate it. Stealing the English version of Electric Ladyland.

Jimi loved those bare-breasted women. I know- Guilty.

Guilty of buying sixty chess sets while my wife fought cancer.

I love guilty: eating two pounds of shrimp with a smack

addict. Better than junk, he said. Hey, I’ll score you some.

Fuck you, I said. Not guilty of that kind of self-crumbling.

Guilty I judged him for nods in the dank lonely booth

where I revealed my first sins against the absent God.




Of revisiting my father in every man, guilty of inventing

transgressions. Guilty of one male friend for 40 years.

Guilty of ego’s narcissism. Of living in a popped bubble

of self-love. Guilty of loving myself with hatred,

not asking the difference between bright dusk and dark dawn.

Of burning bridges because I flamed hotter than most maniacs,

not noticing myself in their eyes, Guilty of not editing

outrages at betrayals from too many muses’ charms,

Guilty of mistaking their smiles for sincere quarter moons,

giving them my soul, shameless, declaring, You’re beautiful.

Guilty of loving myself too much, lingering in the mirror

too long. Of sitting in a café griping about the price

of Guilt. Of thinking I should confess mankind’s

sins against the planet, for not throwing plastics

in the recyclable, for watching The Murder Channel.




Guilty of laughing at the seventh grade nun after she asked me

about guilt. I leered, said, Guilt is looking at your ugly face

every day. Guilty of watching her sneer as she whacked my palms,

saying, Guilty of disrespect, guilty of pride, guilty of leering

at Belinda Berry! I know you, you are sly. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!


Guilty of finding you, tall, happy-eyed lady of the Highlands,

Guilty of not feeling guilty about it, guilty I remembered

your eyes in the face of that schoolgirl, deserving you

during decades of cursing the church, the priest

revealing his blackness before the last peep of light.

Guilty, the one-voiced jury declares, Guilty of being human.

Guilty is a rusty ball and chain of a masochist’s reflections.

You choose to feel guilty, a psychopath told me. Hey!

Throw your guilt into the gutter along with your last gun.

Tell yourself with one final statement of self-forgiveness:

I’m guilty of nothing but loving you.


David Spicer is a former medical journal proofreader now living in Memphis. He has published poems in Santa Clara Review, Synaeresis, Chiron Review, Remington Review, unbroken, Third Wednesday, Yellow Mama, CircleStreet, The Bookends Review, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Gargoyle, The Midnight Boutique, and elsewhere. Nominated for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart once, he is author of one full-length poetry collection, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke’s Press) and six chapbooks, the latest of which is Tribe of Two (Seven CirclePress). Waiting for the Needle Rain, a full-length collection, is forthcoming from Hekate Publishing.