Jesus in the Parking Lot

Just one of a million strip malls
no trees a slab of wavy pavement
without planters filled with geraniums or lobelia
A row of no-frills factory outlets
boxes with empty eyes
boarded windows
signs for seconds in
outsize jeans
a gunsmith with double bars and surveillance cameras
specials on
disposable diapers
bread machines
twelve volt TVs for the car.

The parking lot
a scatter of
pickups and SUVs
a few old beaters dreaming
of new chrome and cheap gas
bumper stickers
-America        Love it or Leave it-
I tried to leave it was a
to want to photograph
the store front in the middle
with yard high neon letters
The Alliance Church of Jesus Christ the King

But he waved me down with a baseball cap
so dirty the logo was illegible
his scruffy dog drooping beside him
trying not to look
as his hairy master asked for a ride.
I’ve got to get out before the cops come
I asked them for change
enough for a meal for me and Matt here
they said I was too dirty to pray with them
get a job or get a life
join the army be a soldier for Jesus in Iraq
he shivered in the rain
wrapped in an old grey blanket

Told them I could be Jesus or maybe his cousin –
we’re calling the cops, dopehead –
Matt’s too small to be a donkey
but he’s my best friend
so lady, give us a ride into Bellingham
Jesus doesn’t live here anymore.

Theresa Wolfwood, August, 20004