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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Jolly Codger Goes Witnessing

Beneath a pheasantry of shocking hair
my old man mounted many stairs declaring
how the Lord is proud to blow His flute
and everyone breathes the same country air:
laundry soap and oil paint,
hyacinth and apple pie,
all preserved in those brochures
you take and toss away:
heaps of fruit frame mountain views,
koala bears for you and I.

Someday, the story goes always. Whenever,
lemon yellow and ash, the sky fell,
Parthenon of wind funnels, he thought of Texas—
all hot sun and righteous fantasy,
even the dry rain a blessing.
See the pronghorns eating from his hand?
But with old age came kidneys barnacled with cysts,
fluid warping the hull of the brain,
doomsdates that were changed and back again

and soon it seemed less prudent
to plea for mammoth hail than mercy.
Of course the tv courts spoke proof of Satan
fruiting in the Almighty vapor.
Farmers with eyes blue as the ribbons of a pumpkin’s prize
stirred the hay-cubed fields with pitchforks and shotguns and axes:
“If you’re Jehovah’s Witnesses
don’t come not one step no further.”

Ah, but knowing salvation’s price unaffordable never kept Noah
from throwing rope before the waters fell.
Such big game hunters of souls,
seeking the right kind of casualty
trade in numbers, not in tempers;
but wicked or just helpless,
he saw how some of each could stow away,
smuggling their disease through the antediluvian mud
so what was it to fall overboard now?

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