by Ian C SMith

Billy Graham brings them to their knees
a stand-in for Jesus, the father, too
who wafts on the edge of madness
through a household of rapt women.
Judgement Day dictates family life.

The half-starved youth they take in
when a daughter rescues and weds him
tries to adjust to their All Bran-ish ways.
Their strategic use of believers’ jargon
tone easy yet earnest, disturbs him.

The mother narrates conversations
to this incredulous son-in-law
her gaze direct, beseeching.
She tells him, wide eyes glittering
what she and God discussed last night.

Daughters train to be missionaries
saving souls as a family vocation.
Thy temple beloved bear witness alleluia.
Sons-in-law should not sleep in sermons.
This one, feeling dragooned, queries.

The father wafts into their Myer shed
shining silvery in the corner of the lawn
he mows in eccentric, decreasing circles
a shed with just enough clearance
for a sinner to hang himself.

Schisms occur below Heaven, groups form
interpreting tricky Bible translations.
Other books receive little attention.
The son-in-law prefers the pub’s bullshit
to the cover-up of the father’s death.

When old and free he recognizes their like
at his door, even before they speak.
Memories of evangelists praying for his soul
flood his senses as he denies them.
The latest novel he reads beats their tracts.

Ian C Smith's picture

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in The Best Australian Poetry, Descant, Island, Magma, The Malahat Review, Southerly, & Westerly His latest book is Lost Language of the Heart, Ginninderra (Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.

Last updated June 04, 2011