Fall/Winter 2016

Jessica Isaacs


the hot, Southern Baptist landscape,
steamy after a July rain,

smothers my voice and
leaves my spirit drenched

in something heavier
                                than water –

grown men on dress-code duty
blow whistles at girls

whose skirts are one inch too high
above their adolescent knees –

teaching something heavier
                                than holy –

the crowds in the tabernacle,
hypnotized, sing “holy, holy, holy,”

over and over again, like a swarm
of bees buzzing, ringing in my ears

until I sway, heavy,
                                wondering if I’ll faint –

wondering if it’s the heat, or too much
red Kool-Aid, or maybe, (though I feel

guilty to think it), the Spirit
making me woozy, nauseating me

until I leave the swarm, sneaking
                                my way out –

past the swelter of asphalt,
past the adults’ judging stares,

winding my way clear on up
to the top of the mountain,

out to the Eagle’s Nest, out
                                to the Three Crosses –

meandering my way back down
a different trail, chancing upon

the Devil’s cool Bathtub – and it’s there,
in the cool of the shade trees

 on the hottest day of the year, when
                                the water washes me clean –

and the buzzing fades, and
the ringing and the nausea subside –

that I find God,
sitting on a rock by himself,

his pants legs rolled up high, high
                                above his knobby knees,

dangling his holy toes in the water,
splashing me and laughing his fool head off

like an adolescent girl, and
I finally understand holy,

and I become lighter
                                than any old-time religion.


Jessica Isaacs, founder and co-editor of Dragon Poet Review, received the 2015 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry for Deep August. Her poems appear in Oklahoma Today, Cybersoleil Literary Journal, All Roads Lead Home Poetry Blog, SugarMule’s Women Writing Nature, One Sentence Poems, Short Order Poems (September 2014), My Life with a Funeral Director, Scissortail Commemorative CD (2014), and Elegant Rage.




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