Issue 19




Catalyst for First Communion #1


Travis Cebula





[as if to not remember me.

as if to not eat would be the same as

to take this. take all this and eat it.

the same as. as if an exit was

bread. as if breaking bread was.

as if to celebrate was a

harvest. as if the broken

would fall to fallow then.

and then we would.

and then gather them in

as if to exit. this field of wheat.

it sits. as if it waits for rupture—

passively—which is to say, as if

it shall resist departure,

and if we ever leave it, it shall persist.

as if none of us ever meant to. as if we

never left. the City shall be

and it shall be as if

we shall return.

and we are going, as if more to a mass

than an arrival—

as if to a departure, rather.

as if to exit]




was, in that moment, love.

as if afflicted,

he ate. he ate it all. all that was offered,

and it blistered his throat.

the feast was so hot.

all were ever so—


and would do the same again.

he prayed to everything.

anyone might have. the masses do—


we will give away our breath.


and we will offer up our lives

at this table.



give us someone to sit next to,


they pray, and we will honor them.

give us all this creation, please, these

grease-stains on paper plates,

this opulence of oranges,

and social nuance.


give us a slice fat enough to roll.

give us old love and thin napkins.

please, they pray, please, they pray

to the other, to Spring Street, to Famous Ben’s—

they pray. they pray to each

red vinyl chair and each chrome leg—

to the strange we that forms inside


a fluorescent wash. steam clings to

a glass door, to linoleum. it stands

between the yellow cabs, handsome,

like a Lincoln slick with rain crawls

up Thompson Street between the black doors.


so we walk out and we straighten our backs.

so we feast on our dead selves.

we hold wakes.

we eat to honor our dead,

so black in the presence of our living,

beautiful eyes. we dye the world

onto the foreheads of horses in such a

way that ostrich plumes

and chips of obsidian,

are, in their way, less rare.

like letters,


black jewels linger in a bookstore.

resplendent sidewalks

are clad in black, too, and the penultimate canticle

the masses walk into—those others

who put on their best clothes

only when they arrive. the masses.

the masses celebrate a life

less aimless,

and more. they write their wisdom

on the walls of subways—


get more comfortable with time, its sacrifice, and

its chewing.

they say things get easier after that.

the first bite is hard, but kneel

and you will get

to feast on the bones of strangers.


we are buried in them.

if not yet, we find a way to be.

if not, then we dissolve

into the same ground our grandparents did.

if we are lucky, we grow

before that, and will again. and amen.


this City, she has swallowed

more than just us, and moreover,

we will all be breathed again.

if you can stand it, then stand

in this air, it has been breathed and may

be the sigh of faith

as it escapes—if you can stand

with the supplicants, you are weft


with the masses in our paupers’ gowns.

the masses multiply

into others. the gloaming

other may be other

than flesh. share such that

I am the sea, too, made into

the flesh of your flesh.

of you, it is faces.


take this air, each

from your own body.

it. it is the breath and faces of

each of you. breathe

trust—take this air,

this raiment, this holy robe—

clad yourself in sacred purple. amen.


in the masses

blooms a heaviness—

a sacrament, breath—

the holy mass of it.










Travis Cebula lives and creates in Colorado where he teaches creative writing and publishes chapbooks of poetry under the imprint Shadow Mountain Press.  His poems, essays, stories and photographs have appeared internationally in various print and on-line journals.  He is the author of six chapbooks including Blossoms from Nothing (E·ratio Editions, 2014) and three full-length collections of poetry, Under the Sky They Lit Cities, Ithaca, and One Year in a Paper Cinema, which is now available from BlazeVOX Books.  In 2011 he was gratefully awarded the Pavel Srut Fellowship for poetry by Western Michigan University. 



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