Over Riesling and langustas
the crusty red-clad warriors
jousted systematics after hours
yielding the final platform
to the wizened exegetes whose sabers
chopped the Hebrew text to death
until the words of Jesus
were shredded to confetti
and the Good News gone.
Then a seminarian awkwardly
burst through the kitchen door
and grasped the podium to speak
startling the prelates’ palates
with a sacred seam of sweetness—
a silver cadence freshening
the stale, dank dining hall
sprung in perfect metric time—
how the father on the hill
could never doubt his son’s return,
and how the valley prodigal
knew absolutely nothing
of the fathoms of the father.
The mystic poet exited as usual
with apron and glassware in customary disarray
leaving the soporific cardinals’ tongues
agape, and sparkle in their eyes
that what was lost in the wars
might be found again.
Jerome L. McElroy
*Accepted in The Penwood Review (Spring 2012).