Thomas Lambert

Doomsday (1982)

Stacks of burlap in the basement seven bags high:

soybean, rice, corn seed;

cans of peaches, peas, carrots and green beans,

enough to feed Gideon’s army.


Gideon, you may recall from Sunday School,

gathered a ragtag crew of three-hundred Israelites

on God’s instruction to slay the Mideonite army.


Mother grimaces:  “Talk to your father,” she says.

At supper we eat boiled soybeans

with Ezekiel bread and butter.

The old man opines on the health benefits of soy

and its utility as a righteous food source.


The meat of the field, did you know,

is a supernatural antioxidant blessed with protein,

vitamins and minerals?


We learn dried soybean, stored properly,

will retain its nutritional value long enough

to survive an apocalypse.


I am twelve-years-old in ’82 

and the end of the world sounds like a video-game ending

where the protagonist expires 

in a whirling puff of smoke only to discover himself

reborn into a dazzling, unspoiled universe.


In father’s game, global war seizes planet earth

followed by a return of the angry, Old Testament god

hurling fire and brimstone down upon 

an ungrateful creation.


“Do not fear,” the old man says, drawing us

near to him.  “God’s chosen will be spared his wrath

and rewarded with riches in heaven.”





Gideon was also chosen,

and for his subservience rewarded as a hero of faith – 

seventy sons were bestowed upon him

from the many women he took as wives.


Yet, Gideon petitioned divine intervention

before signing on to the plan – three miracles

he required as proof of God’s intent.


I required only one:


                   Dear Heavenly Father, hear my prayer.

                 Your holy scripture declares that to those 

                 who ask it will be given … I humbly ask 

                 that you demonstrate the truth of your power 

                 by turning these boiled soybeans into 

                 macaroni and cheese.  Amen.


                                          ~ Thomas

Wedlock

He does not complain 

when she drinks too much at parties.

A solemn reserve masks his displeasure;  

he is far too mannered

to provoke a scene.


While other couples quibble

over inane social decorum,

he maintains a decisive restraint,

even as she betrays

their most intimate affairs.


He does not censor her language

with unfamiliar guests,

although she spooks the delicate

among them with brash comedy

and wild gesticulation.


She croons to inviting men

when she finds him inattentive

and suffers aloud when he scorns

her amorous gesture.  Long after 

others have bid goodnight,


he coaxes her to the car

and drives them home, stopping 

along the rain-soaked freeway

so she may vomit 

her memory of the evening.


He observes her beneath

a veil of tearful prayer and visions 

of a cherished life reflected 

in the pavement.  In the bedroom, 

he rebuffs her advance,


insists she remove her soiled attire.

OK, Boss, she mutters.  You're the boss.

He draws a warm, saline bath,

presents fresh underclothes


A Nice Young Man

I guessed right off by the fanciful demeanor 

and baroque, manicured appearance.

Barbara Streisand records on display in the parlor 

were a decisive give-away.


He said he was a teacher of special-needs children.  

His mother left him the estate in her will

and he turned it into a Bed & Breakfast. 


I know men like him who fled to the city 

in their youth, delivering themselves 

from the stranglehold of rural intolerance, 

yet here he was, fledgling entrepreneur, 

charitable volunteer, 

director of the Presbyterian church choir, 

as rooted in the red soil as the Cottonwood tree 

that shaded my bedroom window.


I'd have liked to ask why a handsome gentleman 

living alone in the dust bowl of America 

had not turned his heels in search of companionship, 

but thought better of it when he presented a photograph 

of daughter and grandchild.  


"The blessed outcome", he declared, 

"of an awkward, high-school affair."


"Don’t the Lord fashion fortune from our folly?"

he added, before retiring for the evening.


I lingered with that on the stairwell, pondering 

the difference between luck and fate,

then straightened his picture wall 

and signed the guestbook inscribed

with a verse from Psalms 139:14:


                 “I praise you because I am fearfully

                 and wonderfully made; marvelous are

                 your works, my soul knows it well.”


In the morning, he prepared a table 

of fresh berries and scones, poached eggs, coffee, 

crème brûlée in homemade raspberry sauce.  


Our dear Grandmother, for whom we traveled 

many miles to celebrate a birthday, 

remarked that our host reminded her 

of the nice young man who designed 

her home interior remodel.  


"You're thinking of Cousin Jerry," 

her sister replied.  "Such a charming boy he was.

Shame he never married."

Thomas Lambert was born and raised in the Midwest, USA. A former U.S. Marine and Desert Storm veteran, he studied creative writing at the universities of Kansas and East Anglia. His poetry has been featured in Pearl, Di-Verse-City, Bluing The Blade, The American Dissident and other publications. Lambert lives in Dripping Springs, Texas with his wife and two daughters.

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