When Jesus Came East Out of Texas

Happy Easter, y’all.

-1-

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He came out tan,
even dark skinned, brown eyes, black hair. A Somebody
He could’ve been, being Jesus. Instead He was
a cotton chopping, dish washing, toilet cleaning, hard working
Man of a Jesus, His hands calloused from the fields He’d worked,
His muscles aching so tired He could hardly sleep most nights.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He came out kicking-up dirt
along the lonely, dusty road leaving Nazareth
coming into a country that don’t allow a kicking up dirt.
Run out of town He was
near tarred and feathered for saying a thing that was true.
You see, a prophet don’t get a bit of respect in the town He’s from.
Nazareth folk knew His mama and His stepdaddy,
claimed they’s always acting uppity like his kin was closer to the Almighty than anybody,
keeping the Sabbath and testifying,
yes testifying they’d been touched by the Lord’s own hand.
Said they’d seen an angel too. “Imagine that,” some said.
“God can’t be that real, just one big myth and no place to be found.
We townspeople been praying way too long for the Expected One
and we’re not about to be taken in by a bastard Son of Joachim’s child.
If this Jesus is a messiah, the town drunk must be Moses.
After all, that drunk would part the Red Sea too if there’s a bottle of whiskey on the other shore.
And he can quote the Scriptures better’n any Baptist preacher.”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He scrounged up work wherever He could,
roustabouting on the rigs out in the Gulf,
picking peaches over Georgia way,
digging the black rock out of West Virginia hills.
Even cleaned stables from time to time—
some said He felt home there, being He was Mary’s Baby Child born in a stall.
Right good with animals too, God’s own creatures He called them.
Able to gentle a horse nobody else could.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He met up with a river.
Went and got Hisself baptized in that great Euphrates of a river;
yes, baptized down yonder in the Old Muddy Mississippi
near Jericho where the seven walls fell,
baptized by His own sweet cousin John,
you know the Baptist who preached
John three sixteen once saved always saved amen.
Straightaway a Dove
whiter than the snow white robes of the saints washed in the Blood,
that Holy Ghost Dove rose,
like Excalibur He rose out of the waters and into the heavens
calling out in dove-talk words only a prophet would know.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He shook Hisself free,
shook off that river, pulled on His sneakers.
Spent a time in the Delta and ran up against Doctor Hoodoo at the Crossroads,
gave old Scratch such a whacking
right then and there Beelzebub invented the Blues.
Then it was on down to New Orleans for Jesus,
that Sodom and Gomorrah town
where sinners cut their eye teeth on the Seven Deadlies.
Amongst the smells of remoulade and gumbo drifting through the Vieux Carré,
Jesus changed the me-got-troubles-and-the-troubles-me-got-cut-down-deep-to-the-bone
Beelzebub Blues into Jazz when Jesus came east out of Texas.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He hopped the night train to Memphis.
Hoboed Hisself up to Graceland and the Land of Elvis,
that motherlode of Rock and Roll born wearing Blue Suede Shoes
cradled alongside the Mother of Rivers,
where Mary Mag in a room at the Heartbreak Hotel called out to her lover, “Love me tender,”
where Simon Peter, like his daddy and his granddaddy before, worked the docks, loading and unloading,
where Beale Street opened its arms wide, welcoming a Man named Jesus,
for Jesus loved sinners, and the sinners loved Jesus.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He told stories,
and He told them ‘bout prodigals and rejects,
‘bout a beggar name of Lazarus and a mustard seed
with faith ‘nough to move a mountain cross the State of Georgia.
But the sinners had heard them all before
from the holy ghost healers and the Bible thumpers and the tent preachers,
from the theologians and the priests and the social gospelleers,
from the Billy Sundays and the Bishop Sheens and the Billy Grahams
they had heard the stories and were none too partial to hearing them again
till they heard the “fear not” in the voice of Jesus who came east out of Texas
and the Beloved He took to calling them like they’s somebody.

-2-
When Jesus came east out of Texas, he moved from town to town
making His way through places with names like Shiloh and Rose of Sharon and New Hope,
just dots on a map for some but home for others.
Wherever He went walking, a rag-tag band followed after,
souls in need of learning how to swim, souls drowning in a sea of storms,
souls like Mary Mag come begging for love,
a woman the gossips dubbed Slut from the shantyside of town.
She Sunday-dressed and fancied herself up and dropped down on her knees
in the grass, in the dirt to beg the feet of Jesus for forgiveness.
He gave her what she wanted much;
He loved her tenderly with words that forgave her many sins.
And them sinning folk, my how they loved Jesus.
Would have followed Him anywhere the sun rises and sets.
But at the edge of the crowd stood a preacher name of Caiaphas.
He heard all the Truth that Jesus spoke and he didn’t listen ‘cause he was so full of hisself.
He turned and walked away from Jesus with a “how dare he” on his lips.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He preached a sermon,
preached it on the banks of the Chattahoochee.
Said a lot of strange things, things like “Blessed”
and “Forgive” and “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your neighbor.”
Told one fellow, “Take up your street and walk.”
That man, who couldn’t walk, did just that, stood hisself up
and walked, walked away with no limp at all.
Another time He said, “If you begat the sword, the sword will begat you.”
Called God, you know the Almighty Jehovah, He named Him Father.
Said, “God is Love.” Of all things.
“How ‘bout that,” said the sinners who had always thought
God was Judge and Jury, and Sheriff too.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, some of the upstanding,
well they had themselves a meeting,
an Upstanding Citizens Committee Meeting.
Seems they didn’t like the rumors coming their way ‘bout this Man Jesus
Like He could walk on water, heal the sick, cast out demons.
“Everybody knows there ain’t no such thing as demons,” they said.
“So how can He cast out a thing that ain’t?”
There was even talk that Jesus raised a dead man right out of his sleep.
“Downright blasphemous was what that was,”
the citizens said. “Let the dead lie in peace.”
From the mouth of Preacher Caiaphas, they heard
the words they felt deep down in their hard-hearted hearts, they heard,
“We can’t allow any more of His Good News stuff being spread around.
Why, what will happen to law and order, to hellfire and brimstone, if the sinners believe?”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, the citizens
dressed themselves up in hoods and in robes like it was Halloween and went out looking.
When they found Jesus, they watched and they watched ‘cause watching was what they did
till one night they found Him alone down by a creek a-praying.
Arrested him on a trumped-up charge. “Baptisin’ without a license,” the hypocrites called it.
Had themselves a trial. But it was no real trial, just a sham of a justice.
“So you think you’re a Jesus?” Preacher Caiaphas said, his spite spitting out the words of Satan
who’d known he’d have his revenge for the whacking he’d taken from the hand of Jesus.
“You ain’t nothing of a Jesus. Our Jesus
is a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fair-skinned Jesus, and you ain’t him.”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, the whip came down,
it came down hard on Jesus,
and the whip came down hard some more
till it had come down hard on His back some thirty-nine times.
“Let’s hang the nigger,” one of the hoods shouted out.
The citizens carved King of the Niggers into His face,
into the face of Jesus and they lynched Him from a tree.
Strung up in space He swung halfway ‘tween earth and heaven
till He died that dark and moonless night.
Then the hypocrites one by one slunk away, saying,
“Well, that’s the last we’ll hear of that nigger.”

Later, later in the dark, later in the night, His friends came to the tree,
that lonesome tree where the Good Man hung—
Mother Mary, Mary Mag, Simon Peter, Little John, they came
and pulled His body down, bruised and scarred.
They laid their broken Jesus into a grave by the river He’d loved.

Out of the darkness came a great shout of light when
Jesus who came east out of Texas stepped out of the ground,
His body now whole and new, and the world could not hold Him,
He ascended into eternity like He’d said He would,
promising, “Mi amigos, viyo con Dios, and remember
I shall see you again.
Soon.”

So look east, my friends. Yes, look east and perhaps,
just perhaps….

The Last Summer of a Carpenter

The man’s feet had callouses from all the walking he had done. The man’s legs had scars from all the times a two-by-four had crashed against them. The man’s hands had endured splinters. Though large, they were tender when he picked up his baby boy and held him close, whispering to the boy how special he was. The man’s arms had muscles acquired from a life time of work, and more work. The man’s beard spiraled out onto his chest. The man’s lips easily folded into a smile but said little. Only his dark eyes and the wrinkles on his brow revealed the concern and worry he had carried through the years. His long dark brown hair fell onto his shoulders with a small bald spot capped on the top of his head. This was a man who worked long hours to keep wife and son free from the wolves.

His shop on the side of a dusty road was simply supplied with the needs of his trade. There were no extras. If he needed, he made do. His neighbors brought their woodwork requests to him, and he delivered them well-made yokes for their oxen and ploughs. He was the man they came to whenever any public woodworking was needed. He carved the wood as well. So many of the locals had tables with the history of the village carved into their legs.

When his son was ready to apprentice, the boy came into the shop to work with the man he called Dad. The man showed his son how to turn a piece of wood on a lathe to make a perfect leg. He showed the boy how not to hit his finger when he drove a nail into the wood. He taught his son how to pick and choose just the right wood for the shop. How to watch out for bad splotches in the texture of the grain. How to speak to the wood so that the wood would not be afraid when his ax felled a tree.

The man knew his son had expressed dreams of other work. The man wanted a happy son so he agreed, that when the time came, the boy would pursue his dream. First he urged the boy to learn a trade. Then he would always have something to fall back on. Besides the man found great pleasure working with his son at his side. Showing him the secrets of his trade. Revealing the mysteries of the wood. Gently caressing the love out of the wood so that it would surrender to his mastery. And the boy learned well. He had a great teacher.

The man was at least thirty years older than his young wife. He married her when she had a great need for a husband. He made sure she had all the comforts of home. She was a good wife, making his house a home filled with good food, laughter and the joy of a good home. Everybody in the village said, “What a great match these two made.”

As the end of his years approached, the man made sure that his wife was provided for. He knew his son would go off and pursue his dreams. And the couple loved the dream the boy had. Not to pursue that dream would be such a something they could never allow.

On the waning days of that final summer, the man closed up shop early and walked the hills around his home. By this time, his long hair had grayed but still it was thick. He reflected on his years that had passed through his life. Of his time watching over his wife as she grew fat with child. Of his time on the road, and in exile. Of his days in the shop, giving extra special care to the woodwork he delivered to those who needed his trade. Of his time at his hearth, his wife and his son at his side, passing on the stories of those who came before him. So that his son would always have pride in who he was and treasure his people’s past. Though they were poor, they sprang from greatness.

As he walked, he came upon a spring he loved. He sat down beside it and dipped his hand into the water. The water reflected an old man, staring back at him. How did he become an old man? he wondered. Why only yesterday he was just a boy, chasing the birds through these very fields. He dropped off to sleep. The afternoon slipped into evening. The skies were sprinkled with thousands of stars.

A woman and a man came to look for him. They found the man by the side of that spring he had loved all his life. He opened his eyes one final time. His last words, “Mary, Jesus.” Then the angels carried him away.

Saint Peter and Mrs. Saint Peter

Just think. For three years, you’ve been out doing the Lord’s work. “On the job training,” Jesus called it. You come home for a few days rest and relaxation. You’d think the wife would be happy to see you. But here’s what you get.

Mrs. Saint Peter runs out to meet her husband. Hugs him. “I’ve missed you a lot.”

Saint Peter hugs his wife real good. “I’ve missed you too, Agatha. It’s been three years on the road. I sure could use one of your extra special back rubs and a pile of your homecooking. And it’s been three years since I’ve had a good bath.”

“I can tell.” They walk hand in hand back to the two bedroom house Saint calls home. “Well, it’s good to have you back.”

“But you know what? Jesus—”

“You’re home for good?” she interrupts as they walk into the living room.

“He rose from the dead. It was the most amazing—”

“There’s so much work to be done around here,” she says enthusiastically, her voice full of hope.

“thing,” he finishes his sentence. “And He put me in charge. I sure have a lot to do. It’s not—”

“The roof needs mending and there’s the boat to patch. Things have just gone to rot since you left.”

“BUT WOMAN, I CAN’T STAY. I HAVE TO LEAD THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS.”

“Don’t shout. It’s not the Christian thing to do.”

“Well, He put me in charge.” Saint is adamant now.

“Jesus did what?” Hands on her waist, she stares at him with disbelief.

“Jesus left me in charge,” he says with pride, a big grin on his face. “He even called me Rock.”

She laughs. “Rockhead more likely. If Jesus left you in charge, he sure made a big mistake.”

Peter’s face is starting to turn red from anger. “You never did believe in me. And you just don’t understand.”

“Understand? What’s there to understand? All I know is there’s a lot of work around here that needs doing and you’re never around to help.”

“Woman, all you do is—nag, nag, nag. Tar the roof, mend the floor, fix the wall, hinge the door. Catch the fish, sail the boat, paint the house. I’m a joke.”

“Peter, Peter, I wish you could hear yourself. All you do is brag, brag, brag. Walk the sea, heal the blind, change the water into wine. Thousands fed, raise the dead. He chose you, you dumpy head.”

Saint storms out of the house. “I don’t know why I ever came back, Nagatha.”

“Me neither. You never change.” She stands at the door.

“That’s not true. I do change.”

“Peter, you’re a good man, but you’re awfully hard-headed.”

“I’m not going to stay here and listen to this. I’ll go where I’m appreciated. And can be in charge. I’ll see you in three more years.” He stalks off into the darkness. “Women.”

“Men! Hmph!” She slams the door.

The Second Coming, Maybe

Some folks think they know something even Jesus doesn’t know. I’m talking Second Coming here. In May of 2012, some radio preacher predicted it. Second Coming didn’t happen. The Mayans had predicted it for the following December. It didn’t happen then either.

Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind books, gave it the old college try. Nostradamus said it would be Y2K, and we know what a bust that one was. Pat Robertson predicted 2007. He first thought 1982 was to be the big year, but he re-evaluated. Edgar Cayce and Sun Myung Moon both said 2000.

The astrologer Jean Dixon even put in her two cents. Said it was to be 1962 according to the alignment of the planets. The planets forgot to check with her. They didn’t align properly and we didn’t get the fireworks she promised. She checked her charts again, and lo and behold, it’s supposed to be 2020. These are just a few of the ones who have blown it. And when they blow it, they don’t admit they blew it. Doesn’t this sound a lot like politicians?

No, they’re like software. They give us an update. Unless they do a Jim Jones and drink some Kool-Aid.

Guess the reason Radio Preacher Guy and the others blew it was because they were getting a little impatient. And they had not read Hal Lindsey’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth”. Old Hal thought he had the road to the Second Coming down pat. He put his guesses in a nice, neat package and wrapped it up with a ribbon. He even gave it a name. Called it his stepping-stones to Jesus. First we get a temple, then we get an Armageddon. Then a Pope named Six-six-six.

The Catholics disagree on that one. The pope of the Second Coming is supposed to be Peter. And named Peter 2. The Mormons added their own take on the Second Coming. Jesus is supposed to set down in Missouri. Seems Hal didn’t check with the Mormons or the Catholics. Never did Radio Preacher Guy, Pat Robertson or Tim LaHaye.

Well, I think it is time I cleared it all up and gave you the real skinny. I have spent many years studying the hieroglyphics of the Book of the Dead Folks and the cuneiforms from the Tower of Babel. That last one turned out to be a lot of talk, talk, talk. I studied the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were a little dusty, so you can’t always trust them. The Nag Hammadi Codices were really not that helpful. It was hard to read what they said was the handwriting on the wall. Turned out it was written on a cave wall in a sandy spot in the desert. Them Gnostics were real kidders, you know.

I read the Vedas and the Tao te ching. Meditated on Mount Nanda Devi and Mount Fuji. Talked to a voodoo priestess. She read the entrails of a chicken for me. Smoked some, well I am not saying what we smoked, but just take my word for it. The Rastafarians know where the good stuff is.

Checked my Aztec calendar and it seemed to be running slow. Finally figured it was running on Aztec Savings Time. And the Aztec god of whatever, big Q, wasn’t talking. He is very upset that everybody took him to be Cortez. Well, he wanted me to let all the good Aztecs everywhere know. He wasn’t Cortez and he’s not taking the rap for Montezuma’s boo-boo.

Besides he’s been working the Star Trek gig and he is not about to give that up yet. He likes the money. He doesn’t have to work too hard. It’s only an occasional appearance he has to make after all.

I prayed at Olympus and checked with the Sibyl at Delphi. The Vestal Virgins only wanted to party. What else can you expect from the toga lobby?

I went through the Bible frontwards and backwards. You have to read it backwards if you’re reading it in Hebrew. Read the the Torah and the Talmud and the Kabbalah too. I studied the Old Testament, the New Testament and the In-Between-Testament. Read what Enoch said and what Adam wrote. I interviewed the lion that was going to eat Daniel. I visited Elijah’s cave and sailed to Patmos and hung out with an old guy who actually hung out with John when he was writing the Book of Revelations. I consulted the stars and I consulted the planets. Even checked with my crystals.

Finally, yes finally, I came up with the time. Not an exact date but a specific time. It was amazing but it made sense. And thanks to your patience I am about to reveal the revealable.

Before I do let you in on the secret, I have to tell you that none but none of those other guys and girls were right. They were all way off the mark.

So when is the Second Coming to be? You are not going to believe this. It will be the day, the exact day, when the White Sox beat the Cubs and win the World Series. That is also the day when hell freezes over.

Solly and the Garbage

They say Solomon was the wisest guy who ever lived. But how wise can a guy who marries seven hundred women be? After all, that is seven hundred wives telling him to take out the garbage. Just where was he going to put all that garbage?

The garbage had started filling up the moat around Jerusalem sometime near 950 BCE. In Solly’s daddy’s time, Jerusalem had been a one-horse town. Not enough garbage to shake a stick at. But now Jerusalem was more like the Big Apple of ancient times. It had a dozen or so skyscrapers, and a temple too. The Donald Trump of that time, a Levite named Cohen Cohen, just kept building and building with all the money coming in from his monopoly of the sheep concession.

Why would a monopoly on sheep bring in so much cash? Well, I’m here to tell you that you can’t have a sacrifice to the Lord High God without a sheep. It just wasn’t done. And it couldn’t be just any sheep. It had to be a pure one. That is where Cohen Cohen came in. He had all the unblemished sheep in the land.

Anyway the garbage had been accumulating for quite some time. Solly’s wives were hearing all his bitching and moaning about it since he didn’t seem to have the time. He was too busy splitting hairs, playing the wise guy game. Like who gets the baby? Hannah or Maureen?

All the king’s men and all the king’s horses decided something had to be done about the garbage. So they went to the wives. The wives decided old Solly just wasn’t doing his job, like a good husband should. After all, it’s the husband’s job to take out the garbage. Right then and there they went on strike. Cut him off from his regular harem visits.

Solly was a virile man, a real manly man he was. A Schwarzenegger among kings. So, no harem visits for a couple of months, and he’s a raving lunatic. Called in the local prophet and demanded, yes demanded, some answers.

“You’re the wise guy around here,” prophet said. The prophet’s name was Spot.

“What does that mean?” Solly asked. “I’m the wise guy around here?”

“Just what it says,” Spot smarted back. Anybody else and Solly would have had his head, but it was No-chopping-off -the-head-of-a-prophet month.

Solly was so mad all he could say was, “Out, damned Spot.”

What to do? What to do? Solly wondered. If he was so wise, why couldn’t he figure this one out. Finally he begged one of his favorite wives to come see him. Her name was Betty # 32.

“Betty # 32?” you ask. Yep, Betty #32. Because Solly had a lot of wives. It was like he was Mickey Rooney and Brigham Young with a quite a bit of Errol Flynn all rolled into one guy. And he couldn’t remember their names. So he started calling them Betty and making them wear t-shirts with their number on it. When you’re a wise king, you can make snap decisions like that.

There was a good reason that Betty # 32 was one of his favorites. She had curves down to her toes. Her curves had curves. She could make Mae West look like a bean pole. That’s the kind of curves she had. And she had flair too. Instead of the old drab gray muumuus the other wives wore, she ran around the palace in a hot pink t-shirt, and it showed off those curves. Man, did it ever.

Betty # 32 got the call from her hubby. She wiggled her way into the king’s audience chamber with that come-hither smile on her face that he loved.

“What’s up, Doc?” She always called him Doc. No Sire-ing for her. It was her way of letting him know his place. Her family’s ancestry was a direct lineage all the way back to great-to-the-tenth-great grandpappy Jacob himself. If Solly was royalty, she was a blue blood of blue bloods. Her blue blood trumped his royalty any day.

Besides he was the son of a brigand and a shepherd. His daddy, Little Davie Crewcut, had only one claim to fame. His band beat out Goliath and the Philistines in a Battle of the Bands way back when. Only thing that put him on the throne was his audacious harp playing and his song-writing. Boy, that man sure could write some Psalms. All the Israelites said so.

So here in the audience chamber Solly and Betty # 32 had a little tit-for-tat. Finally Betty came to the point. “Take out the garbage. Darn it.”

As we all know, that was that. He sent that garbage downriver to one of the ‘burbs. Place called Sheol. The folks in Sheol were none too happy about that. It was such a nice neighborhood, and suddenly there’s all this smelly garbage. I mean, you did not want to be downwind to Sheol on a Thursday morning when Sol took out the garbage. Those folks swore they would get even. But they never did. They didn’t have time. They were too busy burning garbage.

The good news was that there was a hot time in the old harem that night. The next morning Solly took his place on his throne with a smile on his face. That was some smile.