“The Broken Poem”
By John Berry
One day, before there even was such A thing as a day, God was bored. And because music had yet to shape Itself in the tap tap tapping fingers of God, God began to think of a poem. And because there was only God Except for a lot of silence and darkness Which was also God, the poem went There Is God God stood back and admired the poem And so invented admiration not to Mention standing back from things. And saying it to Darkness Darkness shrugged and said ‘Nice.’ And showing it to Silence Silence nodded But said nothing at all. God looked a long time at the poem Which was way before there was Such a thing as a long look For a length of time Then broke it in pieces. God handed one of the pieces To Darkness, saying ‘HERE, YOU KEEP THIS.’ Then handed another to Silence Mouthing ‘THIS IS FOR YOU.’ The last word God kept for Themselves. And God said ‘NOW, THROW YOUR PIECES DOWN.’ Which wasn’t a thing back then And it was a little confusing To Darkness and Silence, but they got The general idea. ‘THROW YOUR PIECES DOWN, AND LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS.’ God Is There The poem read. A small smile, which always was Washed ashore the face of God. ‘WONDERFUL!’ God said as Silence clapped one hand And the eyes of Darkness shined. ‘LET’S GO AGAIN.’ God gathered up the pieces Shuffled and handed them out. ‘NOW, ON THE COUNT OF THREE, LET’S TOSS THEM AS HIGH AS WE CAN! ONE ... TWO... THREE ... GO!’ And the broken words fell For about a billion years Like leaves of future autumns. There God Is The words said. ‘DELIGHTFUL!’ Shouted God as Darkness whistled And Silence beamed. ‘LET’S GO AGAIN!’ God shuffled the words. Now, about this time Which wasn’t really a thing back then Gravity came by. Curiously dressed and smelling oddly Of molasses, Gravity held The Black Hat Of Future Labors in his hands and said ‘Here, drop them in here And I’ll shake them!’ And shook them well Gravity did And everyone laughed when he tossed Them out like flakes of future snows. Is God There The words blanketed their feet. God looked puzzled. Silence mumbled something inaudible. Darkness looked at his hands. Gravity fell into nervous laughter As he was known to do, and clutching The Black Hat of Future Labors Quickly gathered the words And gave them back to God. chooka, chooka, chooka The words whirled in God’s hands. ‘COME ON, BABY! MOMMA NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES!’ God was not unused to games of chance. ‘SEVEN COME ELEVEN ALL GOD’S CHILDREN GO TO HEAVEN!’ God boomed, inadvertently inventing Thunder as Silence and Darkness and Gravity made uneasy faces. Is There God The words clattered like bones In a tomb. God quickly snatched them up And blowing into the nave of their palms Let the pieces fall. Wind, had it been a Thing back then, would have held its breath. God, There Is The poem read. Darkness stared. Silence raised a finger To Gravity’s lips. God looked pleased as though Standing back to admire the solidity Of wonder ~ a feather From The Black Hat of Future Labors Had fallen between two words Inventing the comma. ‘WELL NOW, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT. THAT’S A KEEPER!’ God chuckled, smiling at Darkness and Silence, then setting The Black Hat of Future Labors back on Gravity’s head Went about making the world.
John Berry lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife, Brenda, and their little dog, Molly, and is a key player in the creative community around The River House in Capon Bridge, WV. His work has appeared in publications such as The Blue Mountain Review, The Sow’s Ear Review, as well as various anthologies. His poem, “Human Beans,” won an honorable mention in the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred contest in 2021, and was published in Parabola magazine.
5 QUESTIONS: Creating the universe with God, Gravity, Darkness & friends: September 1, 2022: John Berry is not shy in taking on poetic tasks, including “The Broken Poem and Other Strange Ideas About God,” which tracks the offhand creation of the universe as God and buddies like Gravity and Darkness lend a hand.
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