Poetry 2012 / Volume 43

Brother Swartzentruber’s Market and Novelty — William Jolliff

The gate is wide that leadeth to destruction….

In Elmer’s store the coolers run on kerosene,
the black straw hats are apostles from China
(dat’s a good buy!), and his County Seat Gazebos

come assembled or as kits, delivered to your door
by Elmer’s younger brother, Hershel, the wild one
who left the Brethren when he was borned again.

He’s a Mennonite now and drives a Ford truck.
The Mama’s Mighty Pleasin’ Pies are baked by girls
who don’t always get along, but usually do, though

Melody has threatened twice to clip her covering strings.
Elmer’s missus keeps the books and the order among
them all with only her dark Dutch grimace. Quiet now.

Elmer keeps one favorite aisle: his Believers’ Bookshelf.
It’s lined with basal readers for home-schoolers,
fundagelical End Times Fiction, Martyrs’ Mirror.

hymnals in Dutch, chorus books in English, a half-rack
of not-quite-romances, and best of all, his bumper stickers,
sure to add moral weight to a black, chrome-free Mercedes

or style to the occasional buggy: You wouldn’t dump
garbage in your living room—Why let the TV do it?
Elmer doesn’t have the net worth of his eldest brother—

the one who got the better farm—but he’s not doing badly.
He daydreams of drive-through espresso. Just imagine
the lines: buggies and Hondas, black vans and Cadillacs.

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One thought on “Brother Swartzentruber’s Market and Novelty — William Jolliff

  1. Pingback: Current Issue: Volume 43, Number 1 — Poetry Issue, Fall 2012 | Coe Review

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