the pumpkin and the steeple

It was as if the laws of physics had said the hell with it

And washed its hands of that bit of southern Ohio,

For, one late October morning, the steeple

Of the Salem Hall Methodist church inexplicably sported

A huge Linus-Van-Pelt-wet-dream issue pumpkin.


Needless to say, the whys and wherefores

As to how the gourd in question came to rest where it did

Became a topic of considerable conversation.

Some folks said it was the doing of the volunteer fire brigade

Over in Macksburg (known pranksters to a man, after all),

But they didn’t have a ladder truck that would reach up there,

And most of the members of the department in New Matamoras

Held to the opinion that the Macksburg boys

Were all afraid of heights anyway; still other folks opined

That it was clearly the work of college boys from down in Marietta,

But it was the general consensus that no drunken frat boy

Could conquer the minor logistical issues that surround

Hauling a two-hundred pound pumpkin up a pitched church roof.


As if the presence of a huge jack-o’-lantern

Stuck on a steeple like the cherry on a King Kong sundae

Was not sufficiently inexplicable in and of itself,

The fruit proved to be nearly indestructible, staying fresh

Through Indian Summer heat, hail, and numbing cold

That would have taken a heavy toll on a lesser squash,

And so the pumpkin remained fresh and unmoved

Through Thanksgiving and well beyond—indeed, as

The great orange globe persevered, its renown spread

Well beyond Washington County, and academics

From Columbus, Cleveland and beyond came to town

To photograph and postulate, and enough visitors

Ventured off the interstate and made the trek

On the serpentine two-lane road into town, at all times

Of day and night, that the Chamber of Commerce

Installed two huge floodlights which, in the evening,

Lit up the pumpkin in a manner befitting a Hollywood premiere.


The gourd, in addition to its other attributes,

Proved itself to be extremely stubborn as well;

An early-December snowstorm,

Accompanied by winds which wreaked its fair share of abuse

Upon wires and shingles, didn’t budge the pumpkin an inch—

And so, as the parishioners and other curious souls

Entered the church for services on Christmas morning,

The fruit remained steadfastly at its post, and old Jess Van Raalt,

The embodiment of eighty years worth of piss, vinegar,

And general devil-may-care, reputed to attend church

(Which he did with a faithfulness which put the majority

Of the congregation to shame) only to bedevil

Whichever recent seminarian the bishopric chose to minister

That particular flock, caught the incumbent pastor by the arm.

Reverend, he cackled, that’s a hell of a waste of a good pie

Up on your roof, but I’ll give that God of yours credit. 

His gift for humor shows a lighter touch

Than I was ever prepared to give Him credit for.


2 thoughts on “the pumpkin and the steeple

  1. How did that pumpkin get up there, on top of that steeple?

    You are right (and clever) when you admit that the heat would have taken a “toll on a lesser squash”…hee hee

    That line sent me off, for a moment, trying to picture a crooked neck yellow one up there.

    Loved the story this poem told, especially the ending.

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