By John Dorroh

My roommate likes to burn stuff in the middle

of the back of the back yard

where he’s fashioned a burn pit,

surrounded with seats carved out of ancient

oak stumps, a primitive Stonehenge as it were.


When I had known him a year,

I grew leery, concerned about his proclivity

to burn everything in his path. He beat old chairs

into a state of uselessness with a sledge hammer,

extracted legs and arms, tossed them with vigor

into the burning pile of things—old physics and grammar books,

which take forever to disintegrate, like bones in the compost;

small appliance boxes and stacks of portfolios

from 32 years of teaching and preaching, each sweet face,

a photograph, curling up like the lips of an enraged monster,

agitated by the heat of the yellow, orange, and ochre

flames, the ashes falling into gardens and onto car tops

two counties away.


When the fiery tongues leapt to a height of 40 feet,

I stepped back and saw the silhouette of Jesus.

I swear to God it was Him; my camera’s eye

captured the image. Here, look for yourself.

There’s Jesus right there, His crown of thorns

placed at just the right angle.


After the flames had licked the clouds for an hour or so,

we collapsed into wooden seats. He shared the list of what

should go next. “Same time tomorrow evening?” he asked.

“No, thank you. I think I am going to church. Or I might

go swimming. I’ll let you know.”

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