See if it makes sense or form,

sobriety of folding chairs—

a guess of thirteen in each row—

anonymous as decent drunks

but shaky, waiting for the storm.

A bumptious storm of legs and butts 

that scuttle into these set lines

with scritch of chair legs’ rubber ends

as congregants lean back or nudge

their neighbors’ arms or ample guts.

The choir in robes with wine-red stains

meander in their threes and twos

in from the platform’s bland side doors

to stand between the potted plants

and whisper of arthritic pains.

Then there’ll be the briefest clangs

of keys jarred by the pianist

as anxiously he lifts the lid

to make another go at hymns

as doleful as a sinner’s pangs.

As if raised up through adverse air, 

the preacher launches from his seat

and shouts out to the draggled flock,

“Good mornin’, saints and publicans!

Grab holt the Spirit!” That’s his dare.

The tenors quickly lose their place.

Sopranos start to sway offbeat

and squint-eyed children pinch their friends

while stodgy parents strain to clip

the pinions of “Amazing Grace.”

The common hymn left there to heal,
the clever preacher traps his dull

parishioners in webs of guilt

to prep them for a copper tank

for plucking and a first-rate meal.

What of the chairs still out, still warm,

left in their unpropitious rows?

They marvel at the sights they’ve seen

but are agnostic as to cause.

They hold that here’s no sense or form.

Greg Huteson's poems have recently appeared in THINK, The Honest Ulsterman, Macqueen's Quinterly, The Literary Bohemian, and the Alabama Literary Review, among other publications, and his chapbook, These Unblessed Days, will be published by Kelsay Books in fall 2022. He lives in Taiwan.