Last Word*

 

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

 

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            *Accepted in The Penwood Review (Spring 2012).