Theology At The Dutch Bar
by Joshua Martin

Through bar smoke that hung ephemeral
and departed with a kick of the front door,

they entered, these bar-men, arrived after
work from failed businesses and hunting

stands alike, both ramshackled and writhing
with energy, some with wives, others imagining

coming home to a hot meal and throw pillows
(although this would never be mentioned),

nearly all religious, and at least one seeking atonement for
the deer stripped of skin and guts, hung

like a tarp outside of his deer camp two
weekends ago when he took his only son shooting.

And as it went, the boy, with hands soon to
be cracked and bathed in North Carolina

red clay as the butt of his rifle, asked the father about
the distance to heaven before pulling

the trigger on a doe, a shot, malicious or otherwise,
that, in an instant, lessened the gap between the beauties of childhood

and the hunger-panged reflections of old age,
that transformed the lithe machine of brown fur into a pile of

meat in a breath-span, which was, of course,
much shorter than the time it would have taken

the old man to argue one way or the other
for the existence of God.

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