I was born in a manger in Georgia
by the railroad tracks where
FDR's triumphant remains
Traced their last steps.
In Atlanta I killed my first Yankee
Fought my first monster
And caught Santa Claus
While Brother Drake preached his immortal message.
In Knoxville I walked the icy aisle
To escape the pit of hell
while an evangelist
Rounded up snakes for his dungeon.
In Clinton I delivered your paper
Fished for carp
and played corkball
While watching your hypocrisy
From within the Holy Stained Glass windows
As you tried to shred my Christianity into pieces
By destroying my friends and pastor
(We were Number One, the first to whiten the
sanctuary of Uncle Sam's classrooms with
And I remember you as you plotted
On my birthday
In the name of Christ.
I was nothing to you
Too shy to understand
And unworthy to mount your pulpit
And I praised Him with the trumpet
Blowing taps for dead coal miners
While you gathered your riches
And praise from your peers.
In Knoxville, again, I was a symphony
Playing everlasting notes to Him
While your fraternities
Reaped the destiny
Of my brothers
And snatched them into hell.
In Athens I found love
And wrote my first poem
But not to you
In Cookeville I found Him in far away places
While you knocked at my door in vain
Confusing me with formula's
And La Places
And vibrating strings covered with 50 pound birds
Shivering in a northern wind
Defying Newton's laws of Gravity.
In Rochester you came in the disguise of death
While I sat beside a six week bride
And her husband
And my brother
Covered with umbilical cords
And make-believe life-support systems
With my Bible Open
Only a prayer to defeat you.
In Jackson I preached my first sermon
And rode around in a big red Alabama Power truck
Giving light and power
To your captives crying and weeping
From dungeons with paper thin walls
In their desert of despair.
In Huntsville I manipulated thin wires
And red lights
And green lights
And white lights
Which thrust men of venture
Into orbits around strange planets
Alien to their existence
and landings on barren rocks
Where they were lonely
And forced to ask for His help
While you convinced them
they had done it themselves.
In Louisville I fought you face to face
While sitting in hospital rooms
With bottles of glucose
and someone else's blood
Feeding life into the dead
You had already claimed
While He looked on.
In barren classrooms you came
In your disguise of knowledge
with explanations of everything
He was everywhere
and you were confounded
You couldn't explain Him.
In Madison I buried the dead
you had been victorious over
Killed my first Confederate
While you confused His people
and lack of faith
While We baptized your dead
into His life.
In Talladega you spit in my face
and whittled away at the faulty
remains of my life
burnt-out falling stars
from other worlds
But I ran a mile for the first time
And through the rain and whipping winds
Watched Henry club 715
and I winked at the Invisible Man
On the top of the dome.
I held a baby tight
and cried for joy
at the Gift
from the unknown source
the stars came out
ONE was very bright
And Without Stopping To Think
I Followed It Into The Quiet Night.
Dan K. Phillips
109 Breckenridge Road
Franklin, TN 37067
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