Monday, August 5, 2013

"Heaven on Earth" Finds a Home Again

Last week, I got a phone call from the poet laureate of Virginia.  She's putting together a book of the favorite poems of Virginians, and she wants to use one of mine.

Oh, let me be completely honest here.  My dad wrote in and nominated my poem.  I am so lucky to have such supportive people in my life.

I am amused and amazed at how many people have liked this poem.  Of everything I've written, it seems to resonate the most with people.  I'm amazed at its ability to connect with such a diverse group.

I'm amused because I almost didn't write it, and when I did, I almost didn't send it out.  It felt dangerous to me.  I could see how people would see it as profane, even though I was trying to comment on the down-to-earth ministry of Jesus using modern metaphors.

I've read advice that says that if a poem scares you, you shouldn't run away.  I'm glad that I've sent the poem out into the world to see where it goes.  Garrison Keillor read it years ago on The Writer's Almanac--that was a highlight of my writer's life so far.

So, here again, for your reading pleasure, my poem "Heaven on Earth."  It first appeared in Coal City Review, and I included it in my first chapbook, Whistling Past the Graveyard.

Heaven on Earth

I saw Jesus at the bowling alley,
slinging nothing but gutter balls.
He said, “You’ve gotta love a hobby
that allows ugly shoes.”
He lit a cigarette and bought me a beer.
So I invited him to dinner.

I knew the Lord couldn’t see my house
in its current condition, so I gave it an out
of season spring cleaning. What to serve
for dinner? Fish—the logical
choice, but after 2000 years, he must grow weary
of everyone’s favorite seafood dishes.
I thought of my Granny’s ham with Coca Cola
glaze, but you can’t serve that to a Jewish
boy. Likewise pizza—all my favorite
toppings involve pork.

In the end, I made us an all-dessert buffet.
We played Scrabble and Uno and Yahtzee
and listened to Bill Monroe.
Jesus has a healthy appetite for sweets,
I’m happy to report. He told strange
stories which I’ve puzzled over for days now.

We’ve got an appointment for golf on Wednesday.
Ordinarily I don’t play, and certainly not in this humidity.
But the Lord says he knows a grand miniature
golf course with fiberglass mermaids and working windmills
and the best homemade ice cream you ever tasted.
Sounds like Heaven to me.


Hannah Stephenson said...

Congratulations, Kristin!

Beth said...

Congratulations are in order! I also enjoyed the poem. The portrayal of Jesus as an ordinary man despite his reputation is what appeals to me the most.