David Lee


Ellis Britton was standing outside the churchhouse
after the closing prayer by hisself this oncet
you couldn't be there by him and say something
you never known what he would say out loud
he'd goddam this and ohjesuschrist anothern
everbody talking to each other listening
wondering why they didn't go ahead and kick him out
he never put no money in the collection plate anyway
but they known if they did
he'd burn the churchhouse down that night
and their house too if he thought they's in on it
this one time the Campbellites across the street
hadn't quite got done and come out to stare yet
was singing the closing song right before the prayer
come to the line
      will there be any stars in my crown?
Ellis he turned round hollered loud as he could
through their front door open cause it was summer
      no not one
      not a fucking one
wasn't nothing nobody could do
but get in their cars and drive off home
one man Lovard Peacock I think back then
about torn his 5 year old boy's shoulder out its socket
pulling him to the parking lot to get away
so nobody would think he sed it
when them Chruchofchristers come out to see
only ones left was the Brittons and the preacher
cars pulling out of there like ti was Indianapolis
Ellis Britton he grapt his wife by the arm
sed let's get the hell out of here
we don't have to put up with this one bit
that preacher was so embarrassed
he had to go across the street and apologize
to all them Campbellites standing there
so they wouldn't think he was responsible
for Ellis Britton saying such a terrible thing
even if it might of been true

so this one day I'm talking about
that preacher didn't want to be polite
he walked up to Ellis Britton over off by hisself
had to find the right thing to say so Ellis
wouldn't have something to throw a fit about
the whole congregation standing there listening to see
sed Brother Britton your wife sure is looking nice today
Ellis Britton sed oh bullshit
she's so goddamn fat won't none of her clothes
fit her no more
she gets up a sweat even thinking
about walking outside to get the mail
it soaks in to the furniture
where it smells like hogs been in heat wallering on it
you caint even stand to set there
it'll slime up your clothes so bad
your britches climb up on the crack of your ast
and stick the rest of the day
you have to peel it out at night
I believe she's the second fattest womern in the churchhouse
she caint find no clothes to buy in this town
even her underwears is too tight
the rubbers won't stretch enough
and it leaves a dent all night on her belly
they don't make them big enuf that we can find
so what I want to know Reverent
is whar does your wife go to buy her drawers?
by god if they can fit her
they ought to be able to have some for my Lorene
that preacher learnt his lesson that day
after that he let Ellis Britton stand by hisself studying sidewalks
outside the churchhouse when the services was over
just like everbody else had learned how to do before he come along

David Lee, My Town, Copper Canyon Press, 1995.