Apologia Catholica

Henry Millstein

I pile all my gods beneath Jesus
as if he were my toychest
or maybe my tallit.
Why have just one god
when you can have them all
and the Virgin Mary to boot?
That’s what I like
about Catholicism:
angels at your fingertips
saints around your head
like haloes
or bad haircuts
virgins and vaginas
in the air
forever.

It’s like having opposable thumbs:
you can grasp
anything
but a few things
like God
always slip past you

An Expostulation to My Daughter, Concerning Mathematics

Henry Millstein

Kristen, you’re right to hate
mathematics. There are too many
answers, and not enough questions.

Still, sometimes even numbers
have their truth, fierce as mountain lions
in the hills that ring the city. Only

one must not let oneself be hemmed in
by them, not even when they come at you,
jaws agape, battening on their own

fury. You can make yourself bigger
than they, even without
counting. It’s a matter of zeroes

singing over and over in the drought-
ridden landscape. Even the trees
sing it, desperate for moisture.

Pity you can’t write the real answers
on any exam. There are never enough
zeroes to go around. Too many right answers

and none that are wrong, and true.