Billy Sunday’s Tent Revival
after the lithograph by George Bellows, 1923
All summer, light towers blaze,
reflect off sweat. He glides across the stage
above us, lunges, thrusts finger, shoots words
like bullets at the good-for-nothing
wretches that we are; then sings
with overarching beauty
to that which lives in all of us,
the longing to heal ourselves,
ourselves, into the one and only
gift we make unto the Lord.
In a voice that trills among the pillars of the night,
he praises the mother of Moses as if she were
a neighbor lady, this humble woman
who was godly, who risked all
to hide her son from Pharaoh. But Judas’ mother
had no fear of the Lord, sure as I’m standing here,
he yells—and the arrows that he speaks
seek us where we have fallen
on this sawdust floor, hiding
on hands and knees, wanting to be found.
David Salner’s writing has appeared in Threepenny Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and many other magazines. His second book is Working Here (Rooster Hill Press), and his fourth chapbook will be out soon from Finishing Line Press. Salner is finishing a novel on the lives of the sandhogs who built the Holland Tunnel. He has worked as an iron ore miner, steelworker, teacher, librarian. His wife, Barbara Greenway, is a public school teacher.