Published on Academy of American Poets (

Church for the Disliked

On the turnpike, the smell of a heaven 
made out of old barn wood 
from Okmulgee. 

Handles and rungs 
cut from a fat farmer’s leather belt. 

In the eastern counties, 
coffins raced uphill, moving on hay bales 
and billiard balls.
Charon paid for everyone at the I-44 tollbooth.

On the North Canadian, 
comforts of a widower’s loneliness 
floated on pontoons. 
Time balanced on a fish egg.

In the city, violins violated jackhammers. 
At the refuge, night is the church for the disliked.  

I go to baptize the plants,
horns, and rain. 
I have passed through 
many different Oklahoma statehoods. 


Copyright © 2020 by Sy Hoahwah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 24, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Thinking I will be going back to Oklahoma to visit family in the near future, but I don't. Something always comes up. The only time I make it out that way is for funerals. There are many layers of Oklahoma to go through to get to these funerals.”
Sy Hoahwah


Sy Hoahwah

Sy Hoahwah earned an MFA from the University of Arkansas and is the author of two books of poetry, most recently Night Cradle (USPOCO Books, 2011). He is Yapaituka Comanche/Southern Arapaho.

Date Published: 2020-04-24

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