Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Poem from the Taos Summer Writers' Conference


Wednesday night.

You go in, pay your dollar,
take a fishing pole,
and enter the sanctuary
lined with neon sculptures—
each depicting a scene from the scriptures.
Searchlights dance around the stage
where showgirls with swan legs strut, their sequins afire.

Parishioners sit in booths
and order diet cokes and communion wafers
from waitresses in short skirts.

The stage floor opens
and the minister ascends
tied to a post—
the sin of the week
nailed above his head.

He asks the congregation to rise.

Each member clutches a fishing pole
and casts his or her line at the minister
while the pipe organ blasts “Just as I Am.”

Most people miss
but those who hook the minister’s flesh
give it a good yank
and are forgiven the sin of the week.

This goes on for ten minutes or so.

Some say this is hard on the minister—
that we should hire a homeless guy to stand in for him.

But most think that we shouldn’t mess with tradition.

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