KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 9: Spring 2018
Poem: 187 words [R]

Jesus at the Chevron

by Jack Cooper

I’m gassing up at the Chevron
when a small man in ragged clothes
shuffles up to me for money,
speaking in a language
I can’t understand. Arabic? Farsi?
I think, This is Christmas.
He could be Jesus.
How could I say no!

I pat my pockets for change
but I have none
and hold up a finger for him to wait
until I look in the car.
Not taking any chances,
he lifts up his shirt
to show me a bloody mass
on his abdomen.
It really is Jesus!

What happened? I ask.
Among his next 10 or 15 words
only one is clear to me—tumor.
I pull out my wallet
and rush a dollar into his hand.
He thanks me
and moves on to another car,
this growth that’s killing him
now becoming his way of life.

Driving off with a tank full of gas
that probably came from his place of birth,
I wonder what in the world he’s doing here
speaking the language of blood and guts,
the lingo of long-suffering,
and I wish I had given him more.


—Published previously in the author’s collection of poems, Across My Silence (World Audience, Inc., 2007); appears here with his permission


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