Burly street preacher
Late summer, early evening,
on the Starbucks patio,
corner of O and 12th.
College students are out
(they’re mostly still sober),
and I’m sipping a latte,
reading Kafka on the Shore.
But I’m distracted by the bellowing
of a burly street preacher
who’s got propped on his shoulder
a 20-foot cross.
He’s barking “sin” and “judgment,”
courtesy of our Lord and Savior,
and I grimace
as some teens snicker.
I cringe as he snarls, “you didn’t come from no monkey!”
to jeering, bepectacled humanists
who're holding a banner reading
‘God hates wet dreams, Deuteronomy 23:10’.
The preacher threatens hell
to a man in tattoos and black,
and I brace myself as the rebel
angrily yells back "you're the one who's gonna burn!"
I wish I’d brought my ear plugs.
I’m just trying to read Murakami.
Still – even if I’ve got to pick them out
between grating spiritual epithets
– still –
I never get tired of hearing
the balmy words, “Jesus Christ.”