June 27, 2008

Joseph Bathanti


They bump into Him shopping in Bloomfield.
It’s how many years? He’s skin and bone.
The hair. The beard. Some kind of radical.
But still He shows respect, kisses each one,
inquires about their health, tells them to pray,
ask anything in His name and it’s theirs.
They laugh. He’s probably on drugs, they say.
His poor widowed mother. Thirty-three years
old, a grown man, and still can’t settle down.
The little bit He makes He gives away,
while poor Mary sits in one room downtown,
practically on welfare, day after day.
They don’t mention the thorns or bloody cross.
He’s not a bad kid, just a little lost.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007


Joseph Bathanti: “When I was a Junior in high school, my English teacher read Randall Jarrell’s ‘The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner.’ The poem’s last line, ‘When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose,’ haunts me to this day; and at the time made me ‘feel physically as if the top of my head [had been] taken off,’ a sensation Emily Dickinson cited as proof that a poem had hit its mark. Back then, I didn’t know what that line meant. But I heard it, and decided that I’d take a crack with words at peeling back the tops of people’s heads.” (web)

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