The One True Religion — Peter Davis

One trouble with one religion is this:
It only wants to date the pretty girls
and boys. This religion tends to say, Yes,
I’ll go to the prom with you, but you better
look good when we’re having sex.
Religions often have mixed up feelings about
ornaments and ornamentation. So much so
that one religion might take another
religion to court and sue him for leaving
his porch light on for all eternity. This sort
of religion is a personified as a male, but
a female religion might say, You had
either better, or better not, touch my
waist gently. Religions have a sort of oyster
inside of them that forms because of
agitation. This oyster inside has nothing
inside. But some religions might want to
steal ripe oranges from some grove where
the oranges grow in clumps, like celebrity
deaths. One religion believes in one thing,
but a different religion doesn’t because
that religion believes another thing.
Some religions make things out to be, like,
Look, the world is easy here, this life is
nice, but other religions say, No, this life
is awful, look at the maggot-filled world.
But there is another world over there,
says one religion. Yeah? says another, Well
there is a world over there, too. Yeah?
says yet another religion, Which world
are you referring to? The world of possible
awful or the awful of possible worlds?
A bookish sort, in a robe, rubs his glass eye
and says, I’m afraid God has said something
quite contrary to that. But, there is a woman
who can overhear this from the hall
and she says, That bookish sort is a real
misguided fellow. She can tell you a story
involving a clam and the waters of the earth
being poured into a bean stew from a cloud
who reigns above with an iron spoon.
Once she gets going with the iron spoon
a frog leaps from her mouth and this frog
croaks a new word, which, in turn, spits
out a new frog. A man in a dress coat
and wearing a silver hat says, That new
frog says something deeply to me. It is as
if that new frog sings a new word. At which
point the frog sings a new word and everyone
listens, the whole room goes quiet, the only
thing moving is the feet of the children
in the back row. One of the children waits
to become a man named Ramos who will
lead the ten tribes of Ten Tribeland to a new
place that will be dubbed: The New Tenfold
Tribeland. In this city great alters will be
erected to new leaders, those with names
like Jack, Sammy and Keith. One religion
prefers Keith to Sammy according to many
passages in their rolled scriptures. Another
religion just doesn’t trust life or death
or Keith. This religion (and its religious kin)
prefer waiting for rain to know if the prayers
for the dead have been effaced. Another religion,
one with an animal coat and gold shield, really
goes further than most in how it denounces
fog and lets a new sauce, a sort of thickened air,
into the bloodstream. But a friend of a friend
knows a friend who believes in a religion that
lets him gyrate wildly in little freak-outs, all
the while whispering the name of syrup.
It all gets a little baffling. You start to think
you’ve seen a shadow but you’ve really
only seen the shade of an overhead lamp. This
sort of frequent misunderstanding becomes
more juicy in the wee hours of the morning.
On spring weekends, when everyone is eyeing
some new method of thinking, a new religion
blooms and this one is called a different name
than all of the religions that have come before.
That’s how you know it’s new.


Peter Davis’ most recent book of poems is TINA. He lives, writes and makes music in Indiana.