Thursday Night Poetry

Haven't done one of these in a while, but I got some good news in the mail this afternoon. I had two poems accepted by the Southern Review for publication in the Winter 2007 edition. This is by far the most prestigious acceptance I've ever gotten for publication--the Stegner is certainly bigger overall.

The other pleasing thing is the poems they accepted. These will be the first two of my Witness poems published anywhere outside my personal website, and I've been worried for a while now that the subject matter was just too, I don't know, evangelical for the world of poetic publishing. And maybe they are and this is a fluke--it's early, after all.

So today I'm posting my first poem accepted by The Southern Review.


It does not end the way you plan,
with dramatic flourish, firestorm
of curses as you denounce church,
deny belief in what was always central.
It is not poetic, your leaving
of church and family; instead
it is pathetic the way you slip away,
dodge former brothers at Wal-Mart,
duck into the game room at the mall,
avoid eyes. To new friends
you boast how you threw off
the chains of ignorance, the bonds
of certain, earthbound, eternal life,
how you left behind the blind,
ordered “truth” for chaos,
but the end is really like this:
Sunday morning door-knock,
two elders you haven’t seen
for three years say they’ve heard
you’re smoking again, ask
to talk about repentance,
and you just let them finish.

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