Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Karl Petersen, CONFESSIONS poems

God Laughed
and They Said Yes

Infant baptism isn’t good enough for full salvation,
the church folks were saying. Even had an unscheduled meeting

to confirm once and for all nobody shall enter the kingdom
till they confirm their commitment to the Lord as an adult.

So the implants from infant baptizing churches need do it again
at the age of understanding, so it takes for good.

“So the Lord died for me twice then,” Larry complains
from the back row of the meeting hall. “I gotta get baptized again?”

“That’s right, because you wasn’t of your full wits and mind
when you was four weeks old.” (“Still not,” his wife interjects.)

“Now, that ain’t right,” says Larry. “I remember it like yesterday.
I was asleep, see, and God’s hand come like a light cloud,

cold and wet on my head, ya see, and I heard him say my name.
Then I took in a deep breath like he was blowin’ right into me

and I kicked a big hallelujah! just like that. Then I heard him say,
Boy, they’ll be saying it never happened.” And as Larry sat down,

from the other side of the church basement meeting, on cue
little six-month Brandon (an implant) let out an intoxicating giggle

that sent the whole congregation into stitches. When
they’d stopped laughing, Brandon was still going stronger than ever.

The vote came whether to accept those baptized as infants,
and all, except a few short of the age of understanding, said “yes.”


Crayon City

Downtown is a throbbing brain.
As kids we had it spot on
drawing the cityscape
as a crayon collage of heads,
eyes, noses, and mouths—
a simple truth: downtown
is the face of us
with its shiny make-up
and made over places,
the cover-up
of pits, moles, and deep scars.
And at the end of the day
when we stream for home
like tears from the city, we carry
with its sublime creations,
all its abscesses and ulcers
and a few more holes to fill.


Fossett Flies Solo
Around the World

Our phrases praise us
and our go-it-aloneness.
Accolades to ourselves
ring the skies:
we have conquered space,
made one giant leap,
gained air superiority,
broken barriers
of sound, of time
and atmosphere.
These thoughts propel us
but to the heavens.


American Gothic

Just when you don’t have your brush or canvas
another permutation of American Gothic
walks through the door
and fills the frame at Krispy Kreme—

A couple in black, 600 lbs. together,
approach the display case and sway euphorically,
peer in through the glass, and the man mumbles
his litany: Chocolate Custard, and…
Cinnamon Apple… Lemon Filled…
His voice is muffled between complimentary bites
of the Original Glazed he holds aloft like a pitch fork.

Their young server stands stoic at the altar
offering communion in his crisp green vestments
and cream paper crown

while the pastry case glows ethereal, casting
donut auras wide around two gothic frames. And
on their black T-shirts our pilgrims celebrate
their motto in orange outrage: Forgiven!



After the fireworks,
the oo’s and ah’s, the applause,
the forced cheers,
after the smoke clears,
gunpowder still lingers
like the untimely fart of a one-bang lover;

and in the afterglow
through cracks in the clouds
there comes a glowering down from True Love,

casting a remark to the backs of those played out
and retiring early home: Is that all you’ve got?—
a challenge to the tender hearted
to tarry in her garden under the great dome
and await the wonders she discloses
with slow and ripened reverie,
hands freely splaying
to True Love’s night sky
all your confessions and dreams.



on a Cascade ridge
hushed under
a November crescent

a deafening mist
amplifying the lungs

dark wings
on an updraft
the hollow
of your central chambers
into a vaporous canopy

the raven’s guttural call
so laden
so utter
with ancient truth

the deadwood
in a yawning rib cage