Poetry by Bill Abbott

Election Day

The current messiah
Is tired of hanging on the cross.
He’s tired of drinking vinegar from a sponge.
He’s tired of his thorny crown,
So it’s time for the election process to begin again,
With all the world to watch.
The electable messiahs will line up and campaign.
“My opponent has lusted after women in his heart.”
“My opponent is a worthy man to crucify, but he has bore false witness upon me
in his last commercial…”
Surprisingly, sin is only a small step along the road
To crucifixion.
And as the election approaches,
The character flaws will become even more apparent:
This messiah turns water to wine
For a small fee.
This messiah accepts contributions
From the lepers he has cured.
This messiah
Feeds multitudes of only registered voters.
This messiah, God help us all,
Isn’t telegenic enough to represent us.
And in the end, the messiahs with the least disciples
Will drop out of the race and return home,
And the front-running Christs will move up in the standings.
“If elected your savior, I promise
To give the working man a penance reprieve.”
“If I am given the right to represent you
On the cross,
Then I promise that you will never go hungry again.”
And the press will take pictures of posing messiahs,
Will show this candidate standing by an Easter bunny,
Will show that candidate trying on his own pre-made crown of thorns.
And the press will post stories about
How certain messiahs have done cocaine in the past, or
How other messiahs have accepted contributions from elected buddhas.
And the candidates will smile and wave, kiss babies and write scriptures
Because no public figure, no matter how holy,
Can bear to not have their story told.
And one will be betrayed by his own Judas
In exchange for a pouch of special interest silver,
And one will be doubted by his own Thomas,
And it won’t matter.
And on a Super Tuesday along the way,
Pilate will stand with the messiahs on a balcony
And the people will try to vote for the lesser of two evils
To represent them in sanctity,
And the people will walk away
With a taste of vinegar in their mouths,
With a feeling that they have sinned somehow
In electing any of these men as a representative for them
To their Yahweh.
And in the end, one of these men
Will be nailed to a cross and raised up
As the old messiah is lowered to the ground.
And one Mary will stand there and proudly say,
“That’s my boy.”
And the old messiah will stretch away the weariness,
And he’ll say one last thing
To his replacement.
As he massages the holes in his hands,
He’ll look up, mutter “Shmuck,” and walk away.

Previously published in November 3rd Club.


Daydream Teatime With Mythical Figures

Under the shadows of exhaustion,
I ponder the world
While Darwin sits across the table,
Whispering rumors of how it all works
As he reads Freud’s works for a giggle.

I think of fables that appeared
Before any Aesop or Mother Goose,
And Darwin stops to listen
To my imagination
As it reviews the story of the flying men.

And I watch my guest
As the story unfolds,
And I notice that
Darwin nods his approval
As Icarus burns
As his wings melt down
In the hot summer sun.
And I can hear Darwin
Mutter something about
Natural selection
As Icarus dies
And Daedalus flies on.

And I sit in this world
With a face that a dermatologist would love,
With teeth that make dentists cherish me,
With bad eyesight, allergies,
Chronic asthma, clinical depression,
And I think,
Only the strong survive,
And Darwin nods at me knowingly.
And I think,
I am not strong. I will not evolve enough.
But I am a Daedalus
To all the Icaruses burning around me,
And I watch them crash and burn
And I learn as much as I can
Because survival of the fittest
Depends in part on learning and adapting,
And not just evolving.
And Darwin smiles.
I will be Daedalus.
I will fly without burning.

Previously published in Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest.

The Muse

When I first discovered
That I wanted to write poetry
Eleven years ago,
I wrote three poems a day
For two years straight,
Then started to slow down
Until I reached this point,
Where I’m trapped by the words.

And I remember, when I first told my dad
That I wrote poetry,
That he’d told me
That he’d written a few,
A few
While he was in college,
And I thought,
“I’m gonna write more than a few.”
I, after all, was a poet.

So what do you call a poet
When he doesn’t write anymore?

I remember the early days
Of loving the muse,
We’d run together through the fields, laughing.
I’d court her sincerely.
I’d bring her flowers.
I’d write poems about her
With the words that she’d give to me.
Ah, but familiarity breeds contempt,
And the longer we stayed together,
The more she grew to hate me.
The muse turned cold, distant,
And I struggled to maintain
My grip on the words
That once were so easy.

My muse has gone on an extended vacation, and,
Metaphorically speaking,
My tires are slashed,
My lines are crossed,
My inner Samson has been shaved,
My sitcom is on hiatus,
My inner child has developed ADD
On the week that the ritalin ran dry,
My tinfoil cap has stopped working, and
The voices in my head are reciting
Waiting for Godot
Backwards,
The prescription ran out on my X-ray glasses,
And it’s raining kryptonite all around me.

And you’d think that something could surface
From all this chaos
(Metaphorically speaking),
But it never does.

I try to talk
And it feels like the words are stuck here
Or here.
I’m poetically constipated
To the point where I can’t even write shit anymore.

There’s a phrase for this problem,
But I’ve forgotten what it is…

So if you see the muse,
Tell her that I miss her.
Tell her that I’m willing to take her back unconditionally,
That I don’t care who she’s been sleeping with,
As long as she’ll stay this time.
Tell her that I kept all the poems,
That I pressed all the flowers,
And that I can still smell her perfume
On the evening winds.
Tell her
That the words miss her
As much as I do.

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About Bill Abbott

Bill Abbott is a poet, writer, and professor who has written a history of poetry slams in the Southeast, Let Them Eat MoonPie. He has performed poetry on many stages and published in several small-to-mid-sized presses over the years, including The Sow’s Ear. He is often credited with creating the Rust Belt Regional Poetry Festival. Mr. Abbott lives with his wife and two children in Middletown, OH.