On a hot Friday afternoon a man
Walks from block to block, with a sign saying
Only ROMANS 6:23. His clothes
Are designed to protect skin from sun; it’s
Clear he’s done this before. He is a voice
Of one. Most come to Hollywood to be
A star, or, just for now, imagine they
Rule the earth. All the sirens call here.
He plays the same loud tape over and over,
An urgent man who says our time is short,
And the walk of the Lord is the walk
Of light. I wonder if, apart from me,
Anyone takes in the sign: he is used
To being ignored, makes no attempt
At eye contact. People bypass him gently,
Polite, relieved he is not panhandling,
And he gets indulgent stares, as if his
Sign was written in Klingon. To believe
What Paul wrote in his letter was once
Dangerous, you paid with your life, as he
Did. Then it took hold of much of Europe
And the Americas. In time out of mind
There was a learned, stubborn Jew rotting
In a stinking Roman jail. On the last
Day he spoke the last words. Death was coming.
If he was lucky, he would meet Peter’s
Fate. “Write this… write this down. Out of the mouth
Of the lion have I escaped. Our Lord
Will deliver me yet. Jesus, I come
Unto your kingdom; bless me and all men,
Except that son of a whore, Alexander,
And the other jackal, Demas. You will
Judge them according to their works: God is
Not mocked. I… I have kept the faith, my course
Is run. Jesus, stand fast by Timothy.
Grace be with you.” And when the end came, did
He dream dreams? Which one would have a sharper
Sting? First, he’d see men put to the torch
For believing in God differently
Than other men, love no longer the law.
The second prophecy might cut deeper still.
There would be a man in Hollywood who
Called out the wages of sin, and no one
Cared, and a soul on fire for Christ was now
Simply quaint, odd, just another crazy
Person on this crazy street. Like the heart
Can only cling to hope for so long, as
If faith itself has a time limit, stricter
Than the hold on your ATM card.