Wheat State Salvation
Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto
thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down
out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Matthew 14:28,29 (King James Version)
lots in Kansas, we walk on
weeds, not water;
kicked up from shoes; cough up
guilt that stuck in the throat
husks. Dad preached: To the world,
we are just
an old movie to go see every time
it comes to
town, but under our canvas tonight,
the Lord is
circled overhead on bare light bulbs,
the light, old ladies with flowered,
The tribulations of Job, not
apostles, inflated our faith.
Dad and Mom
worked the aisles, talked
and sisters from churches
state. I did not dare miss one word
talk of how much I’d grown.
headlights surrounded the tent,
spotlight. There is room at the cross.
Ghost is moving.
I pledged fifty cents
a month –
half a week’s allowance –
for the work
of God. Teen-age cousins dedicated
to Christ. Going home, I’d fall asleep
scriptures, with a vision for sinners
forgiven, hearing my words.
now is all weeds, thirty years of dust.
Tonight in a
lot across town where last week
firecrackers, folks still come
to the altar
– just as I am.
I hear a
voice that sounds so like my own,
it must be
Someone Else. It calls me out,
this time to
be the cripple and throw away
on which I learned to walk.
From They Say This
is How Death Came Into the World, Mayapple Press, 2011. Appeared
in Rattle #29, Summer, 2008. An earlier version of “Wheat State
Salvation” appeared as "Salvation/Wheat State Camp Meeting" in
Quartet, Vol. VII, #56, Fall, 1976.
Lazarus, Visiting Kansas
“So he called to him,
'Father Abraham, have pity on me
and send Lazarus to
dip the tip of his finger in water and
cool my tongue,
because I am in agony in this fire.”
When she runs out
of people to visit,
she visits the
headstones. There is family
all along I-70
from Salina to Hays –
Uncle Rudy with
his shirt off in the fields
plowing on his
John Deere. That day
in 1966, Aunt
Betty wouldn’t stop
to give him a
drink of water for the way
he looked. He
didn’t appear a good
Christian man and
certainly no brother
of hers. Today
she would donate a thousand
bucks to hell to
give him a drink of water,
make him the
richest man in the family
no longer alive.
Her back stooped, she pours
water as if out
of her eyes, to fill the vase
and keep alive
the goldenrod and tansy
she clipped by
the roadside. And off she goes
to visit Aunt
Ruth, not knowing anymore
people are here or they’re gone.
From Wires Over the Homeplace, Pinyon Publishing, 2013.
Appears online at Diode, Vol. 5, No. 3, Fall, 2012.
Sister Lyons and the
For the preaching of
the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are
saved it is the power of God…. hath not God made foolish the wisdom of
1 Corinthians 1:18-20
Tuesdays at four on KRFM, she exhaled sacred texts
She discerned prophecy from rhyme.
Her voice was the
Lord’s mighty rushing wind,
huffing all God’s
news into 12 minutes, saving three
to close with a
prayer in tongues. Just to spite the Devil,
she’d say. After
school let out, I’d drive 35 miles
to Newton and
bring her home. In the car, Grandma
biscuits and gravy, things I understood.
How Grandpa said
her name, it rhymed with glory:
Clorie has a
calling from the Lord.
He told me to
in school, then
he split for heaven. She sold
the house that
cost him 10 hours a day for 40 years.
She got 15
minutes a week for 6 months. Rather
than take her
home to another fight with Mom,
I wanted to eat
biscuits and gravy in her kitchen
thanks that the Lord’s work and all that
not broadcast to the Wichita I knew.
From Wires Over the
Homeplace. Pinyon Publishing, 2013.
First appeared in Concho River Review, Fall/Winter 2011.