Mennonite Poetry Home | Larry Nightingale



Church parking-lot blues

    Was joyous pretty much holding
his own in the circle of elders,
skinny men kicking pebbles
with the toes of their dusty
Sunday go-to-meeting black shoes,
there in the gravel church parking-lot
agreeing over-the-top vociferous
that the dear Lord
did not and never would speak
'their' (i.e. the ungodly English's)

              and that indeed God
might very well not at all understand
any petitionary prayers thus uttered. And that, yes,
what was that lately baptized wet-behind-the-ears spiritual
baby-faced fellow thinking
to pour out so thundering loud
his infernal stutter

                          before the congregation
even if there were English-only comprehending
others among—new villagers or visitors
in attendance at the service
of the heavenly and the holy (i.e. German-speaking)
Brethren. And, yes, of course,
such was tantamount to 'tongues',
just so much religious indulgent French-kissing
(wasn't it?) as it was
with those poor misguided holy rollers
in nearby Chilliwack City, and maybe our Pete N.
although he was the preacher's black sheep prodigal
40-something son come handsomely home at last
was not best suited to stand stiff among
the properly boney-handed

                                      usher greeters
nor sit on the watery eyed heavy-lidded prayer week
revivals-infinitum committee,
and, yes, that of course it was
decidedly an English ape
and an English apple

admittedly neither the beloved Luther
nor the King James versions spit this up)
and, yes, of course that first original
obviously non-Mennonite monkey-lady's
miserable fault why
things were as they were
are as they are down through
the five thousand (maximum ten)

                                                Earth years
since Eden, and proposing there then
to the felt fedora hatted parking-lot circle
A.D. 1954 their ruddy immigrant
Flemish-Dutch-German necks
sweating and reeking in serious
with old vintage strong spice shaving-lotions,
that surly it was a big luscious juicy
pesticide swathed honking loud truckload
of striped Mexican

or dangle of baby bull testicle
sized Fraser River Valley raspberries
on a whipped up dolloped
fresh slice of (nudge-wink) cream pie
that budged old Adam knocked on all fours!
That lusty bowlegged
dusty black-suited fish eyed
Mennonite! he said. That animal! I said.
Couldn't they see his loosed entrails
(like the eternal shirttails) trailing
out from that Mesopotamian berry-patch?
As he exited to Prussia,
Russia, Siberia

                      and points beyond
knowing both nephews Cain and Abe(l)
and all that they and theirs begat
would eventually emigrate

                                      to Canada
with the Holy Purple German
Gothic alphabet hymnbook
in his head-not just a cacophonous
sound bubble full of erotic rhythm
and plain dirty simple mindedness
and fellows like that
and all the fleshy women

                                      (and men)
he'd known in the biblical sense
were to blame...
Yes indeed he was joyous holding
his own with all this, there in the gravel
church parking-lot, even as robin-egg
blue-eyed elder Dyck
became seemingly strangely desirable
and so too the pepper-mustached
Hildebrandt brothers

                the absent-minded one
with the big ruddy milk-pitcher ears
and his barn door half open),
and thus the circle closed,
and we blanked out and wandered
aimlessly for a thousand years...
And some would have it this hymn is all
was ever said or written of it,
and some would have it this hymn is only
all we ever did not say or write about it,
that this hymn (which you are
not possibly singing,
are you?

            sir or madam, because it's someone's
possibly his possibly mine
possibly yours possibly God's
very private and personal
church parking-lot

nightmare fantasy tragicomic blues
which someone hasn't
even finished writing yet)
is both all he (not He) ever said
and did and did not say
because he could never quite decide
which of that circle he most
despised or desired
after having wordlessly undressed
each and every brilliant mind
therein behind the baptism font
much including the arch backed gravedigger
and the Sunday School superintendent,
hardly believing the rudimentary
stick figures (both
theirs and his) revealed

                                  unto him
and, verily, apparently also unto Him...
(Thus far the intellectual reading
of these dark passages in all
their pretty pink-and-brown freckled
odd words and languages
between the foot-washing communion
and the eating of the church picnic sandwiches,
after removal of this broken world's bandages )
our better angels descanting above it all
Ich liebe dich! Ich liebe dich!

© Larry Nightingale




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