George Loomis Ruminates On The Death Of His Old Friend Henry Soames

I have often wondered (though this one time

Out of respect for the deceased, I suppressed the urge to ask the question)

Why in hell preachers never seem to own any old pairs of shoes;

Certainly, they must be cognizant that the when the Lord brings rain

(Though never when, where, or in the proportion we would like,

His way being not our way and all that bullshit),

The mud is sure to follow, and yet I have never seen a preacher

Who didn’t approach an open grave in shiny new calfskin loafers.

To say that having a man of the cloth approach

The solemn duty of uniting a man with his Maker

Like he was tip-toeing through a mine field puts a burr up my ass

Is to make understatement goddamn near an art form;

I have stipulated in my will that I’m to be buried

Smack-dab in the middle of my cow pasture

(The farm itself, sadly, a bit easier to reach

Once the town–over my strenuous objections, I may add–

Decided it was necessary to pave my section of the Crow Mountain Road),

So when the time comes for the minister at the Presbyterian church over in Delhi

To spirit me away from this vale of tears to the arms of Jesus,

Hopefully he’ll do so with good honest cowshit splattered on his suit trousers.



That is, apparently, what old Doc Cathey wrote on Henry’s death certificate,

Though I suspect he simply picked a page out of his medical dictionary

And wrote down the first cause that looked plausible.

Given that the man was big as a house and soft as a newborn,

It’s damn near a miracle he lived as long as he did,

And he sure as hell didn’t do anything for his longevity

By taking on the cares and worries of every loser and fool

Like they were so many stray kittens.

For myself, I learned long ago where value lies:

You come up to my place, I can show you

An Ithaca Double Shotgun from the 20s

With the blue still on the barrels—worth damn near a thousand dollars now—

Or Liberty Head ten-dollar coins that you’d swear were freshly minted.

Now that, my friend, is the kind of thing that appreciates over the years,

And if I die alone and unmourned…well, that’s pretty much how I came in,

So I’m more or less ahead of the game.

What killed Henry? Well, I’m no M.D.—praise God!—but I figure it was

His failure to take into account that saintliness doesn’t pay off

Until a body’s gone and become past tense.


3 thoughts on “George Loomis Ruminates On The Death Of His Old Friend Henry Soames

  1. the juxtaposition of language here (from the heavenly to the earthly)made my day (although I will admit:my day just started).

    I’m hooked on these poems and have passed the link on to several friends whose favorite poet is Billy Collins.

    By the way, I saw Billy last year in a poetry reading. Wow.

  2. Now if you want to get hooked on something…this poem borrows characters from the John Gardner novel Nickel Mountain, (Gardner, oddly enough, being best known for his re-telling of the Beowulf saga from Grendel’s point of view), which is as fine a novel as this side of the Atlantic has ever produced.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s