Gabriel Sealey-Morris: Four Poems
Perspectives on the Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw
The Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw found his name in the vestibule registry
of the first, last and best Baptist fellowship at the tender age of ten.
He the canticle and he the resolution, law and fanciful lawgiver to himself
(as all tender ten-year-olds clean and pink-scrubbed should be),
he named his signature fate and destiny and set out to settle accords
between fools and their funds. No, first he set out to salve. To save.
Only later did his salvationing turn to salivating. No, first he set out to secure.
Fine. First, I cannot say. Words tend to ring and repute, round and refute.
But he commanded words and words stepped in time.
God, did his words time and rhythm themselves, God, did his words martial,
did they row and fan, did they plosive expand and cut fire-perfectly through the crowds.
How the crowds winnowed and prostrated themselves, how they groveled.
God, how they gloried in abnegation. They stamped the camp-meeting straw
into the meat-red mud like Israelites stamping Egyptian bricks or Canaanite infants.
The Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw saw their bodies compacted, heaved and hoven,
heavenward-bound through the muck of the camp-meeting brickworks,
he saw their limbs and trunks glistening with mud-sweat,
saw the splotched and bursting breasts of the flagellant women
as they ecstatically rent their bosoms before Elohim, before him rather,
he helped them work their skirts up into their girdles and filled their sackcloth with locust-honey.
And their husbands paid him for the energy they expended in begetting that night and for nights afterward.
But that still was later. The Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw jumbles retelling with his ragged pieces.
Somehow he resists all telling.
A story I heard once of the Reverend,
Of the Reverend on the radio:
How the Reverend transmitted his ghost,
His spectral self across the smoky
Particle-gritty boondock ether;
How bursts of static formed flourishes
As if his charge outcharged all appliances;
How he stretched his beefy antennae
To Heaven and tapped God on the shoulder,
How God turned the wrong way
As if the Reverend were playing a grade-school gag
And looked down wondering;
How the Reverend went on and on about Cain
And Onan and the sons of Noah,
Especially Ham, especially peeping-tom Ham,
Of Noah in his wine-wetted nakedness
And Cush and Canaan and Mizraim and Phut,
And the daughters of Lot losing heart
And swallowing their stomachs
And giving their Sodomite cunts to their father –
How a commercial for pancake mix cut in
And when the program came back
The Reverend was quiet and wondering.
The Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw tickles and teases out of reason, tantalizes.
The spirit in him spired and spat out reason to be and to seem.
Coffers offered and sometimes accepted, sometimes rejected, sometimes ingested in meals of chicken and turkey and turtle stew.
The coffers of bodies spread-eagled, huddled, humbled and expressed were offered,
usually accepted, never rejected, the eros cupiditas agape caritas filios finally fornication alone.
His broad hulk, his bulky limbs and the tree-hard dell of his breast tantalized
the bored child-rearing matrons and the callow naïve and simple farmgirls
and he sanitized the flopping wetnurse tits of the one with his saliva
and the round firm seed-sopping thighs of the one with his semen alike,
and all were equal and both were desired and both had his hands to thank for their felix culpa,
and his hands, those hard smoked-meat mitts that smelled and tasted of pork sweat tobacco piss,
those hands handed the fear of God into the laps of the country women
and took it away with the sweat of his brow and the spurting stink of his deposition.
The Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw is tangram and jigsaw,
the pieces arrange themselves into queries and rearrangement
rearranges new queries and the old remain,
so perhaps the Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw is also palimpsest and overpaint.
Perhaps the Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw is Cain.
Perhaps the Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw is kind.
Perhaps the Reverend Buddy Bloodsaw is kin.