Melissa Earley, February 1
I’ve been reading Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems. I read his poems out loud. I love the way they sound and the way the words feel in my mouth. Following are excerpts from the poem I read in worship a couple of weeks ago. The full poem is available in the book Chicago Poems.
TO A CONTEMPORARY BUNKSHOOTER
You come along…tearing your shirt…yellowing about Jesus.
Where do you get that stuff?
What do you know about Jesus?
Jesus had a way of talking soft and outside of a few bankers and higher-ups among the con men of Jerusalem everybody liked to have this Jesus around because he never made any fake passes and everything he said went and helped the sick and gave the people hope.
You come along squirting words at us, shaking your fist and calling us all dam fools so fierce the froth slobbers over your lips…always blabbing we’re all going to hell straight off and you know all about it.
I’ve read Jesus’ words. I know what he said. You don’t throw any scare into me. I’ve got your number. I know how much you know about Jesus.
This Jesus was good to look at, smelled good, listened good. He threw out something fresh and beautiful from the skin of his body and the touch of his hands wherever he passed along.
You slimy bunkshooter, you put a smut on every human blossom in reach of your rotten breath belching about hell-fire and hiccupping about this Man who lived a clean life in Galilee.
You tell people living in shanties Jesus is going to fix it up all right with them by giving them mansions in the skies after they’re dead and the worms have eaten ‘em.
You tell $6 a week department store girls all they need is Jesus; you take a steel trust wop, dead without having lived, gray and shrunken at forty years of age, and you tell him to look at Jesus on the cross and he’ll be all right.
You tell poor people they don’t need any more money on pay day and even if it’s fierce to be out of a job, Jesus’ll fix that up all right, all right – all they gotta do is take Jesus the way you say.
I’m telling you Jesus wouldn’t stand for the stuff you’re handing out. Jesus played it different. The bankers and lawyers of Jerusalem got their sluggers and murderers to go after Jesus just because Jesus wouldn’t play their game. He didn’t sit in with the big thieves.
I don’t want a lot of gab in from a bunkshooter in my religion.
I won’t take my religion from a man who never works except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar.
I ask you to come through and who me where you’re pouring out the blood of your life.
I’ve been to this suburb of Jerusalem they call Golgotha, where they nailed Him, and I know if the story is straight it was real blood ran from His hands and the nail-holes, and it was real blood spurted in red drops where the spear of the Roman soldier rammed in between the ribs of this Jesus of Nazareth.