Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Eschatology in Crayon Wax

It’s morning again in America.
—Reagan campaign slogan

October and the Llano Estacado’s
echoless sea of dry grass
mingles with the state’s highway
dust, fall’s rumors

of Ebola, and the firmament’s
half-asphyxiated petitions
for rain. In Plainview,
I stop for gas, drop

my last twenty for a paper
and fifteen on pump #3.
The attendant offers his requisite
“God bless” and nod

and I go out to fill.
Behind him, the greasy rotisserie
turns—100% Texas Beef!—
its hum vaguely tempting

and just as clichéd, predictable
as the radio evangelist
whose Sunday call-in show
I’ve been following since

Amarillo: Putin’s rise,
the Tribulation, RFID,
and freedom’s number of days.
This far south,

the prophecies’ signal is as much
white noise as it is
likely, though the headline
below the fold might beg

to differ: “Man Sees
'Mark of the Beast’; Cuts
Off, Microwaves Hand.”
I remember Children’s Church:

coloring in the angel
and his bowl of wrath, the Beast
with seven heads, its seven
crowns, the pale horse

and rider I filled with green,
an eschatology in crayon wax
shaded by Gorbachev, the dollar’s
decline, duck and cover.

And yet, those Sundays, too,
were just another morning
in America rising then
as it did three days ago

over the aluminum belly
of that off-the-grid Airstream,
its warped linoleum, and the body
bled out and prepped to rise,

the highlighted scripture open
beside him, something about saints,
the trumpet’s first fiery blare,
the Morning Star gleaming

in the still sky like Diablo Steel,
its glint beneath the kitchenette’s
fluorescents just before
the Sawzall’s teeth met wrist

flesh, before the makeshift
tourniquet and the bloody thumbprint
on the microwave punched to max.
Due east, the caprock and aggraded

caliche rise and fall
like an entire history of belief
buried beneath the Panhandle’s
alluvial fans: everything

I’d learned of Eden and the angel,
its fiery sword, Nineveh
and the windows of heaven opened,
a Roman execution, and how

all of it was reason enough
to fear a port-wine birthmark,
the Beast, and ATMs. The pump
clicks off and I head in.

Hours from home, I spend
what’s left on a hotdog, a Coke,
and pocket the loose change.
Even now, my prayer’s

the same: trust in the Lord
and lean not on my own
understanding of liberty,
perestroikathe radical fall.  

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