This is the new blog...CONFESSION ZERO

A CHARGE TO KEEP (Thievery's Slumber)

The Illustrated President
"I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves."

[Bush] came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.” (


OVER THIS WORLD, and every creature howling
in his thoughts, echoed his emptiness without reply,
save for the slain.

Writhing in his waking dream of selfish banter
The thief rides hard, fleeing the onslaught of truth…
Even his own dreaded and lengthy swig of it!
Thrash and swagger, let hell itself raise its talons,
Wrestle mighty hubris to its filthy Goddamned knees;
The world wants him and his horde of occupied senses
To suffer the ocean awash over their watery, filthy faces!
Yes! Even the ocean wants them to descend,
To have faith, believe in its sodden worship,
Fantasize of its godliness,
To Slumber ‘neath its thinning grasp as
Wretched beasts and the murdered fill their trophies
With the bandit’s counterfeit cries of forgiveness and tattered flesh!

Above the world children are weeping noisily; No. Not even death
Can end such youthful howling abducted in its beginning.
Upon this world red-faced mothers and fathers shriek-

“Who let loose these devils of man?”
“Unchained such god-fouled, vile terror?”
“Delivered this Goddamned misery to the breathing?”

Even before such pungent breath leaves their gaping jaws
The answer, riding upon a foul steed, charges past them
Toward the ocean’s shores.

"Where are the children?"
“Their spirits…Where are they?”
“Their soft feet and bellies?”
"Surely they are hungry?"

Writhing now upon his waking steed of selfish banter
The thief rides swift, fleeing the onslaught of truth…
Even his own dreaded and lengthy swig of it!
White hounds shake their sodden restraints
As their ghastly paws scrape the floorboards of hell…

The spirits are not here now. The spirits are not here.
"Where are they? What has become of them?"

Above the world they wait with the keeper of horses
Who tells them that soon will come a most splendid feast;
A banquet that only the ocean knows how to arrange.

© 2007 mrp/thepoetryman

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