Poetry 2013 / Volume 44

The Prophet Amos Adds a Postscript — William Jolliff

Hear this word, you cow of Bashan,
who are on the mountains of Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the need…

As I said, the Lord called me, took me away
from my flocks, told me, “Boy, give’m hell.”
And it was nothing short of hell I gave them.
He showed me a vision—think twice before
you pray for that—and told me what to say.
So I left the farm, preached the word, and
came on home. But I’m no lily of the field.

I’ve been around the powerful and rich
too long to think they’ll ever give it away.
You don’t corner the market on oil and corn
by being a fool. And those big fine houses?
They didn’t grow there. When little rich
babies are sucking a slave’s teat, one thing
they learn is how to hold on. They’ll hold on.

I’m a prophet, right? I know how sermons end:
The Lord will restore your cities and land,
the mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
you will plant gardens and eat their fruit.
All that. But I’m a farmer, too. I’ve been
scorched and flooded enough time to know
you can’t get too damn sure about the weather.

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