Rock of Ages #59

Rock of Ages, Pencil Sketch, Picture 59

As if buckshot blew a hole
in the side of an Ozark hill

he once called home, the pencil
patient artist of State Hospital #3

left a wound gripping the rock
of his mountain, spraying

green spruces grown in shale,
lime and sandstone,

mortared by bones of the dead
bedded in hot springs

up the side of his discarded
invoice canvas,

ROCK OF AGES #59 penciled
over a reminder to pay

promptly as required by law
on an otherwise empty page.

I see him, a boy running these hills
standing in his pew

at his father’s church to sing
let me hide myself in thee

with nowhere to hide, helpless
against his father’s fists

his father’s name on a dotted line
remanding him to this place,

as empty of grace as the columns
of debits and credits printed

on his medium, double sins
of difference and indifference

in the shattered Rock of Ages.

Janet Reed

Janet Reed is guest editor of I-70 Review, author of Blue Exhaust (FLP, 2019), and a multi-year Pushcart Prize nominee.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sow’s Ear Review, Ellipsis, Tipton Poetry Journal, and others. She began writing knock-off Nancy Drew stories on wide-lined notebook paper at age 11 and now teaches writing and literature for Crowder College in Missouri.


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