An Old Pew

for Ray

He wanted the God of the flannelgraph, God of the box of crayons, God of grape kool-aid and stale cookies, God of the paper tabernacle, God of the quiz bowl, God of the gold star, God of Aunt Maxine and Uncle Doug.

He got God of the tent meeting, the gospel revival, God of the cold immersion, God of the burning cross, God of Must the Young Die Too?, God of Brother Wyatt, God of the funeral flowers, God of the last verse, sung once again, for the lost, for the sinners, for the unsaved that remain out there—yes, you know who you are.

He wanted a song of the pitchpipe, song of the Rich Old King, song of the red and yellow black and white, song of clap your hands, song of stomp your feet, song of the happy shout, the song sung in rounds.

He heard the altar call song, the invitation song, the revival song, song about a fount of blood, song of the roll call and the last trumpet, song of being blind, song of sinking deep, song of the deep stain, song of the worm.


Let there be a song for the man who doesn’t sing. 

Let there be a song for the man who walks away, song of the dark hand, song of the wandering feet, song of the unsung.

Let there be a god of the night bloom, god of the guestroom, god of the quince and winter wheat, god of last call and first guess, god of the frozen drink, god of the hairy chest, god of the road trip, god of the home-grown, god of the homeward and homely, god of the shared home, a repurposed god, god of the unsaid, god of the old church pew at the foot of the bed.


From Nest (Salmon Poetry, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Ed Madden. Used with the permission of the poet.