by Gregory Brooks
Blessed are the Fugitives of Sermons
A grizzly snorts and scratches at the pulpit—
But I’m the only one who runs.
Some miracles foam at the mouth.
I can’t stay while my friends clap in praise.
I collapse out the double doors
and sprint to the nearby train station.
Wolf? Someone asks, breathing fast.
Bear. My throat replies, so hoarse
it seems like an entire congregation
had stomped across the cords.
We huddle, sharing tales—
a new Gospel of gossip and catharsis.
We step inside the train
and watch the steeples shrink away.
It’s many things—
it’s distance, movement
most of all.
It’s been a decade since I heard the ocean,
since my father drove
us past BBQ billboards,
motels, & orange groves.
He repeated a mantra then,
Be better than me,
and stuck a crowbar,
in my uncalloused hands—
Led me to a rusted car
half-buried on the beach
All yours, he laughed,
and left to chase seagulls.
I broke open the trunk:
found Bible study pamphlets,
sepia photos, a red toolbox,
ammunition, but no gun—
No clues to the legacy of depression
or mania, no glove box stuffed
with family secrets. Just stuff.
Salt-washed smiles, John 3:16s.
GREGORY BROOKS is a student at Utah Valley University, studying psychology. His poetry has appeared in Touchstones, Warp & Weave, Utah Life Magazine, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. His chapbook, The Music of the Dead, was a winner in the “30 Poems in 30 Days” contest by Salt Lake Community College. He loves reading poetry outdoors.
Photo: “Steeples” by Care_SMC