Monday, December 28, 2009

The Chiron Review's Punk Issue

Over the week-end, I got my contributor's copy of the latest Chiron Review, the punk edition. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I thought I'd post the poem here. Those of you who have been following my poems will see a theme emerging--the answer to that old Sunday School question of how the world would react if Jesus returned again and what would Jesus do and how would we recognize him?

For a long time as I wrote these, I didn't even send them out; they felt subversive and strange to me. And then, when I sent them out, they often got returned immediately. Lately I've noticed that they're more likely to be accepted. And I'm gathering similarly themed poems into a manuscript, which I'll start sending out into the world in the new year (Steel Toe Books is reading in January!).

Here's the poem "New Kid," which is my latest publication:

New Kid

If Jesus came to your high school,
he'd be that boy with the untuned guitar,
which most days was missing a string.
Could he not afford a packet of guitar strings?
Did he not know how to tune the thing?
Hadn't he heard of an electronic tuner?
Jesus would smile that half smile and keep playing,
but offer no answers.

If Jesus came to your high school,
he'd hang out with the strange and demented.
He'd sneak smokes with the drug addled.
He'd join Chorus, where the otherworldly
quality of his voice wouldn’t quite blend.
He'd play flute in Band.
He'd spend his lunch hour in the library, reading and reshelving.

You would hear his songs echoing
in your head, down the hallways, across the years.
They'd shimmer at you and just when you thought you grasped
their meaning, your analytical processes would collapse.
Instead, you write strange poems
to delight your children who draw mystical
pictures to illustrate your poems inspired
by Jesus, who sang the songs of angels,
that year he came to your high school.

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