smoke for jesus

ANOTHER YEAR GONE: ARE YOU STILL HEADING TOWARD HELL?

Somewhere in the gallery

of the Middle American Gothic

should be an exhibition on the most

underappreciated of Bible-Belt art forms,

the pithy roadside church sign– 

it became a game for you and me

collecting snapshots of such theological conundrums

as “UR ETERNAL HOME: SMOKING OR NON?”

or “JESUS IS COMING, R U READY?”

we didn’t mean to mock, didn’t

mean to be the haughty liberal northerners

but when Silver Creek Pentecostal proclaimed:

“GOD SENT THE FIRST VALENTINE

WITH TWO BOARDS AND THREE NAILS”

it was too good to pass up–

somewhere I still have the two pieces

of scrap lumber you nailed together

and gave to me with a chocolate heart:

God’s shitty junior-high shop project.

Still, we couldn’t write it off

as if there was nothing beautiful

in “I LOVE YOU.

YOU’RE FORGIVEN.

COME HOME.  – GOD”

and wasn’t the spirit of the Lord

somehow upon us that night when,

driving back to our dry county

(“ALCOHOL IS THE DEVIL’S WATER”)

from a two-hour round-trip beer run,

we worked out anagrams in ballpoint

on a bar napkin, redeeming Deer Run

Baptist Church’s January damnation.

Our designated driver pulled

onto the roadside shoulder

and there between the highway

and the house of prayer we scrambled

the sliding letters, arranging our message:

“ANOTHER YEAR GONE: ARE YOU

STILL HEALING THE WORLD?”

Monday 8:27am
I woke up with you on my mind.
You called me babe last night —
my heart is still pounding.

Tuesday 10:53pm
Today I realized we won’t work.
What we are is hurting her.
And I think she matters more to me than you do.

Wednesday 11:52pm
I broke things off with you today.
She barely said a word.
I’ve never regretted anything more than this.

Thursday 4:03pm
I shouldn’t have sent that message.
You shouldn’t have been so okay with receiving it.

Friday 9:57pm
I almost messaged you today.
I didn’t.

Saturday 8:49pm
I’m walking around town in search of alcohol.
They say that liquor numbs the pain of having a broken heart.
I want to put that to the test.

Sunday 2:32am
I heard you texted a girl you’ve never spoken to before.
I wonder if it’s because you’re trying to replace me.
I can’t help but wish you weren’t.
I thought I was irreplaceable.

—  a week with you on my mind, c.j.n.
Move on, leave, run away, escape this place… but don’t forget about me, about us, about this town. Always remember where you come from so you can appreciate how far you’ve come.
—  c.j.n.
You claim to love her, inside and out, but the only time you call her beautiful is when it’s 3 in the morning and I’ve already turned you down.
—  girls tell each other everything, c.j.n.
We throw around the word never likes its nothing but a small rose petal. The word never is a doubled edged sword. On one side it says ‘I will never leave you’ and on the other it says ‘I will never love you.’
—  The Word Never