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Letters from an American: April 27, 2020 by Heather Cox Richardson

Church for the Disliked by Sy Hoahwah with Photography by Bruno Chalifour

Reprinted with gracious permission of the author and the photographer. Poem from poets.org. Photograph 061221 dry by Bruno Chalifour.

Church for the Disliked



Bruno 1On the turnpike, the smell of a heaven 
made out of old barn wood 
from Okmulgee. 

Handles and rungs 
cut from a fat farmer’s leather belt. 

In the eastern counties, 
coffins raced uphill, moving on hay bales 
and billiard balls.
Charon paid for everyone at the I-44 tollbooth.

On the North Canadian, 
comforts of a widower’s loneliness 
floated on pontoons. 
Time balanced on a fish egg.

In the city, violins violated jackhammers. 
At the refuge, night is the church for the disliked.  

I go to baptize the plants,
horns, and rain. 
I have passed through 
many different Oklahoma statehoods.


Copyright © 2020 by Sy Hoahwah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 24, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

Photograph from Bruno Chalifour's Visual Diary.

Poem and image, conceived separately, joined by editor Marc A. Cirigliano.




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