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False Gods

what is holy manna
if not the pills on my nightstand?

moses struck his stick on the rock
and xanax popped out.

it got rid of his stutter
and he looked pharaoh right in the eye.

the golden calf tempts with faster relief,
an ice pack for our anxious brains:

for the kids who throw up when we see locusts,
won’t drink water for fear it turns to blood again,

begging our mothers to paint the doors
with sacrificial lambs at sundown

just in case white angel’s death swoops in
again one night to steal our breath.

and maybe the shiny calf is the gun.
maybe it is the skinny girl.

I could prostrate myself at its feet
until my body lies as flat and still,

but the promises are hollow gold.
it will not let me stand back up;

desert will lick dust off my bones.
what I mean is that the prophet warned:

it’s not god who strikes you down
the idol kills you first.


A Mississippi poet, Amy Lauren authored Prodigal (Bottlecap Press, 2017) and God With Us (Headmistress Press, 2017). Her work appears in Cordite Poetry Review, Sinister Wisdom, and Believe Out Loud.