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Thursday, October 12, 2006


by Jennifer Budenski

“I was thinking when the guy gave him to us that he was trying to hoax us, but it’s not white-out or anything—it’s real.”
--Michael Wilk, alligator owner, in the StarTribune, July 24, 2006

What if the universe were ruled
by the kind of God who manifests
His Holy Name, in English,
on someone’s pet alligator in Wisconsin?
A George Burns kind of God
who sends messages in cheese curds,
on viaducts and bumperstickers, or
sweating through beer labels.
A blue collar sort of guy
with an off-color sense of humor.

There would be war, the kind
of war that isn’t really a war
so much as the sort of violence
that passes the time like
bored young boys throwing stones
at dogs behind the junkyard fence—
ten points if you kill it—except
with grown men, foreign children,
and guns.

Neighbors, having read the word of God
on an ear of picnic corn, would read too much
into each other’s lawn signs, stand
warily in their driveways, privately
wondering which ones are really
petty criminals, and which ones
are damned to hell.

And I would sit down to write a poem
to resist this miracle, this God
as ordinary as a ham sandwich,
and say I want the Watchmaker,
the one who rarely visits and then
only in the disputable visions of saints
and martyrs, the one, who like a Father,
lets us suffer our consequences without
reassurances like miracles
on the hides of alligators.

Jennifer Budenski teaches writing at an alternative high school in Minnesota. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Poetry East and Mom Writers Literary Magazine and is forthcoming in this fall's issue of Marginalia. She loves campaign season because of how the lawn signs draw boundaries in her neighborhood.