Murder in the parish

this will be an American nostalgia:
a rough and tumble truth
confidence men
gamblers, prodigals
meager masses towing a load
hymns sung to Jesus from an
unrecognized labor
arriving at the wrong time
making the wrong wager

an empty parish, walls and rafters
nails and junkwood
fine place as any for a murder
lines on scrap paper
calling for couplet and ode
jangled barn doors
pastured verse loose
from its hinges

the American Poet
was a merchant first
second a thief
and prior a prophet
sent from biblical whales
mouth ruffian with
shell fish
and other scavenged tales

gonna make a start
aint gonna bother stopping
gonna pour forth
cement from the mixer
soil the earth uneven
plant a first generation crop
and seal the property

no heirloom in the closet
no last name
like God intended
son of man
toiling in dust
with no commandments

an outpost on the way
to heaven or hell—
you tell

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