POETRY: O That With Yonder Sacred Throng by Marci Johnson

O That With Yonder Sacred Throng by Marci Johnson

The things of this world do not seem
to be going according to plan.

For one thing, the altar’s on fire.
The pastor hasn’t noticed, thinks

the audience is unusually moved
by his words his sharp suit the way

his thick hair waves at a part
so straight the Israelites could pass

through to the Promised Land with
out detour. A man in back has gone

for the fire extinguisher while
we like sheep look to one another

to gauge reaction. Shall we finish
the final hymn? Remark on the too

obvious symbolism? No, let’s throw
our bodies on the flames Old Testament

style like a people uncivilized by bulletins
and keyboards and cupped ceiling

lights but living in the raw wind, the
hunger, the sand in our upturned faces.

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