beside still waters By Sonny Schader

beside still waters

on tuesday god is a good boy
with big hands, helps old lady jackson
cart her groceries up the stairs, ripe
cantaloupes and peaches. chainsmokes
three cigarettes with her on the fire escape.
learns her mercy with tender hands,
thumb on the lighter like a miracle.
callouses on the meat of his palms.
she feeds him butterscotch candy
and when he smiles at her with white
teeth and dark eyes, her spine
straightens like a cat stretching
in the sun. somedays god is a ghost,
rattling around 36b and writing sins
in the fog on the medicine cabinet,
i know what you did last night.
tell her you are sorry. god flickers
the lights and shakes the windows
in their frames, knocks photographs
off the walls. somedays god
sunbathes on the rooftop, evenly
tanned and shoulders unknotting
in the yellow afternoon. god
makes lists of regrets and bakes
oatmeal cookies for his neighbors.
god hooks up old lady jackson’s wifi
and she calls him a nice boy. like he’s lonely,
like she thinks he should find himself
a nice boy. god floods the river,
waters swelling over the banks,
dirty currents tonguing the roadways
like the riverbank has something to say.
god splits open the venetian blinds
with two fingers and eyes the night,
sodium light, sipping slowly
from his whisky sour. listens
to the subway humming tunelessly,
the city crooning. like, i shall not want.
like, bright shining as the sun.
in the morning god flips a perfect omelette
in the pan and waters the ragged
tomatoes on the roof. brings old lady jackson
her newspaper. old lady jackson
tells god he’s looking tired.
god grins with all his teeth.
like a half-feral dog.
like a mutt. like a pit bull.
like a good boy.
says, yes ma’am

By Sonny Schader

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