Merchant of Joy – A Poem

Merchant of Joy

Hollow by the river
just some miles from Riggins
Lee and I work to the bone to
make sure everyone is happy

parading in dishwasher’s gloves
and big glassy bug-head masks
barefoot through the
tall grass and brambles
never minding the cuts

we play mandolin music on
the radio while we make our
way naked into the
abandoned bus like two
shaven monkeys all pale bellied
with red arms and red necks
and red bird’s nests
between our legs

inside the chemistry of
happiness spills out of
iceboxes and polypropylene
jars with fat floating to the top

“Jee-zaws” Lee says
with his daddy’s accent that
only comes when he says
the Lord’s name with that
little pause in the middle like
how they say “yee-haw”
in old movies where the
cactuses grow in deserts not
in clay pots by the river bed
springs in a dirty mattress
growing through the razor wire
grass that split my palms when
I was young and living
in creeks with dreams
that didn’t need crystals
to be alive

back before they called me
cousin-fucker with their eyes
even though I don’t have a cousin
though I had that old dog who
could keep me company before
he ran off to God knows where

“fogget id” says Lee his voice is
a bear’s beneath the rubber
“Jee-zaws” he throws the name
around enough to be a Pope

What does that great long haired
bronze son have to say about us
we’re the particle saints after all
learning his bible for the common
man like latin for peasants

We light the clouds on fire
with the gasoline scent
of creation this is
our incense
our church
our miracle

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