Today's poem is by Christopher Howell

Religious Experience

Once during a lightning storm at sea
a man danced on the flight deck
and loosed a sort of singing
in a language no one knew.
The MAA's men stood around, confused
and blustering, "Look at that dumb fuck!"
to hide their fear. The lightning
brought his image in jagged,
cinematic flashes
so that at times he appeared to walk
the black air like a demon, like bad news
that was almost there.

And we were, ourselves, such news, an ark
of grey menace, choppers and fighters lined up
two by two and a red glow from the depths
in which we lived, "trampling out the vintage."

The man, Boatswain's Mate Second Class Pendarvis,
danced and danced
until the Captain said, "That's it, get the son-of-a bitch
down to sick bay," and they hauled him off, legs flailing, voice
a leaping genuflection, lightning blasts separating
one moment from the next
as we were, in fact, separate each from what we thought
the world should be.

But Pendarvis danced on, even in sick bay, singing
in Sumerian or Mu, and the Chaplain,
having been sent for, arrived
frowning and helpless as a man of peace on a warship,
which is what he was.

Copyright © 2017 Christopher Howell All rights reserved
from Copper Nickel
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Archives  Web Weekly Features  About Verse Daily  FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily  Follow Verse Daily on Twitter

Copyright © 2002-2017 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved