By Mark Lager\

From Fall 2017

By age thirty-three
 I finish my ministry
 record thirty songs

 But I ain’t dyin’ yet
 in Beaumont
 1440 Forrest Street

 I open my own
 House of Prayer
 to all who are downtrodden

 My angel Angeline
 she takes care of me
 World War II

 One sweltering August afternoon
 dry as the valley of bones
 in Ezekiel

 The desert wind blows in
 from west Texas
 dust covers Beaumont

 And I remember the day
 my mama died
 the cough in the lungs

 The sandpaper taste
 heavy in the air
 splinters of wood

 Catch fire
 and our house
 burns down

 Then the rains
 of September
 fall in Beaumont

 Anna covers
 our wet mattress
 with newspapers



 I mumble, murmur
 can’t speak no more
 I’m descending

 She takes me
 to the hospital
 but they turn us away

 “Oh, Lord,
  I can’t keep from crying”
 They bury me
 in Blanchette Cemetery
 tomb with no name

 Year after year


 Through cypress groves

                   I drift far away

                                               I disappear

 I’m inscribed on a copper plate

 leaving our solar system

                                     submerged in deep space