Editors’ note: This is the second of a four-poem set submitted jointly by Justin Evans and Jeff Newberry. We’ve opted to publish one poem on each normal publication day, over the span of a week and a half. Their bio will be included in each day’s installment. We’re also providing links back and forth to each of the poems once this series’ publication has completed.
FOUR EPISTLES (Part 3), Jeff Newberry and Justin Evans (February 7)
FOUR EPISTLES (Part 4), Jeff Newberry and Justin Evans (February 9)
Epistle about the Doctrine of Preordination Imagine the terrible weight of having God on your side. You must walk assured that each vow you break, each bug you kill, each face you scar with the face you’ve prepared, all is preordained, all sanctioned. My friend the pastor tells me that I’m wrong, that God doesn’t use us like puppets. He preaches three-point sermons footnoted with Luther & Calvin. He thinks guns and God are one in the same, thinks only fools trust the government, sees me as misguided, a fool not to answer with folly. I think of a guy we used to call “Preacher Man” when I was a kid. He rode around on a three-wheeled trike & told all who’d listen that the Kingdom was at hand. He said my brother’s best friend Ben couldn’t go to heaven because animals don’t go to heaven & quoted some obscure Old Testament verse meant to show heaven a white-washed Caucasian paradise. Preacher Man handed out Chick tracts & I’ll confess, some nights I lay in bed and shuddered, thinking literal fire & brimstone, wondering if I were an enemy of the Most High. The angel touched Isaiah’s lips to burning coal & told the prophet his guilt had been taken away. I bite myself daily & probe the wounds with my tongue. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. You’d think I would have learned by now.