Order the Country Roots Music Issue

From Trio to Hank Williams to Tanya Tucker, the Country Roots Music Issue covers a host of music icons with contributions from Imani Perry, Rodney Crowell, Rissi Palmer, and so many others.

Route 20, Summers County, West Virginia. Image © Roger May

The Pastor

The sun will be turned to darkness and
the moon to blood before the coming
of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

—Joel 2:31

I’ve seen enough of your creation, Lord,
its absurd conceits, the sins of idle men
ripened to gnashing teeth. The winter wren
has built its nest elsewhere. We have ignored
the image we were made in, the divine breath
that stirred the clay. Why must you tarry, Lord?
Sound your trumpet. Raise your flaming sword.
Remind us what it means to fear a death
and a return. Your bride has taken to whoring,
and, like the cheapest whore in Chickasaw,
she makes a killing—behind your deacons’ doors.
It is time, Lord. The pale horse is snoring
in its stall. Strike a match and light the straw.
And not because it’s my will, Lord, but yours.

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Michael Shewmaker

Michael Shewmaker is a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University. His first collection of poems, Penumbra, received the 2016 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. His poems appear in Yale Review, Poetry Daily, New Criterion, and elsewhere.