Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Happy Birthday, Christopher Smart

According to this, Christopher Smart was born on this day back in 1722. He’s best known for his poem “Jubilate Agno,” which is one crazy bit of poetry. The piece of it that’s most often anthologized is often called “My Cat Jeoffrey,” in which Smart finds God in everything Jeoffrey does.

When I was working on my poems about Jehovah’s Witnesses a lot, I decided to write about the difficult relationship I have with my father, and I did it using Smart’s form as a guide. I titled mine “Jubilate Patro,” and I’m posting it here, in honor of Smart’s birthday.

Jubilate Patro

For I will consider my father Sam
For he praises God in his mumbles and circular stories
For his left arm is crooked to remind him of original sin
For half his brain was cut off from blood when he was a baby
For it rewired itself
For his right arm is mighty in exchange
For with it he did not spare the rod
For he was an elder until Alzheimer’s took away his memory
For he was an accountant until Alzheimer’s took away his memory
For he praised God in his mumbles and circular stories before Alzheimer’s took his memory and thus it is a part of his soul

Continued below the fold…

For he is still a storyteller even though he gets lost in his stories sometimes
For with his right arm he taught me how to snap off a curveball
For with his left arm he taught me to drive a stick shift
For with his half-brain he taught me to praise God among strangers
For he never explained football to me, but made me learn it myself
For he is taller than me even with the curve in his spine that causes him pain
For I will never know another man greater than him
For his favorite animal was the porcupine, a creature of defense
For when I was a child and beaten by bullies he told me it was right to defend myself with a tree branch
For he taught me what a lie was by reading to me of Ananias and Sapphira
For I became a poet anyway
For I used that tree branch and knocked one boy silly
For he made me listen to Hank Williams even when I didn’t want to
For because of him I can still quote chapter and verse of the Gospels
For he can still dance
For when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he came to see me even though I had left the church and was an unrepentant sinner
For he taught me that there is no such thing as a fair fight
For when he accidentally bloodied my nose, he apologized in tears
For I still have his copy of Dick Clark’s 20 Years of Rock and Roll
For when Louis Jordan came on the stereo he would grab my mother and twirl her in the
living room of our trailer so that the floors shook
For he made me hold a nail while he hit it with a hammer and so taught me trust
For I learned to drive a nail myself at 7
For he drove a dump truck with one good arm and so taught me that while I may be able to do all things, some times I should not
For he has more hair than I do
For when I told him that I had been excised from the church, he hung up on me to praise God in the only way he knew how
For he took me to see Chuck Berry when I was 15
For because of him I worked shit jobs and thus built character
For because of that I appreciated college when I finally went
For he knew there is glorious music in a car engine even if he didn’t always know how to coax it forth
For he taught me to always carry jumper cables
For he went to his father’s bedside when it was time for him to die
For he stayed a month and helped build the coffin
For he would not let the funeral be held in a Kingdom Hall in order to protect the body of the church
For he taught me there are things more important than family and sometimes I hate him for that
For his father is Jehovah and he has no son anymore

Advertisements

April 11, 2008 - Posted by | Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno, Jubilate Patro

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: