Perfect bound, 79 pages
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Reviewed by Jill Crammond Wickham
Dozens of worshippers trekked miles to stand here
this summer dusk, as they do each night, beside
a windblown cornfield in a Midwestern farm,
purple thunderclouds billowing…
first the sundown’s crimson dousing desert mesas,
then the dark sea pooling in canyons, night’s floodspilling into heartland farms where streetlights
shimmer few and far between. Through shredded sails
of cirrus a blood red moon rises on the horizon…
There are pulls in the breast, she says,
lifting the bag to show beneath the lapel
where his black threads unravel, a hole
worn clean through. Then, in her own torn voice
she tells him the price he will pay.
…An hour before sunrise
they’re up there again, hammering nails in deep,
reconnecting a new transformer to some far source,
as, hallelujah, the lights blink on.
…soon the weight
of his sentence sinks the kite. Finally,
here he stands in the middle of all this
shrill elation, his people pointing
to the sky, and across the sand
his dark clauses drag.
Though neither glorious, nor victorious, the Prophet is always endearing. Robert Fanning, his mouthpiece, is a deft poet and skilled narrator. Readers will have little choice but to follow the pair to the conclusion of their poetic journey, back at the dry cleaners where the Prophet “hangs / his black suit on the hook and waits…,” where his suit is removed “like a superhero’s cape or broken wing,” where he wants to, but does not, say, “every face we wear/ is a withering disguise…” and where the Prophet leaves with a ticket in his hand, leaving us to wonder (to hope), will he return?