Froggy Frenchman

No, not in the flesh — if Jesus was ever
in ordinary flesh — but in the faces
of the Christian ladies, heads held high
chanting their sorrows and joys for all
to share. He had turned away, Froggy said,
from sacred things since he was old enough
to pay his way. And here he was half-gone
on muscatel when he felt the soul soar
loose from the wreck of his body, all
350 misshapen pounds of it. No, not
in church, but on “the damn crosstown
streetcar running late.”

A distant

Sunday night in the City of Dreams,
Froggy on his way to his weekend
of the usual low-notes, cheap cigars,
Michigan wine, and stud poker, when Jesus
“come a knockin’.” At Twelfth Street
the trolley stopped and a dozen ladies
mounted, each in her best flowered dress,
each with her worn Bible in hand,
each one blessed and glowing. “Changed
my life,” Froggy says — for maybe
the hundredth time — though how
is hard to say.
Orphan of destiny,

descendant of voyagers, fur traders,
whiskey priests run amok in the final
wilderness, Froggy takes his ease on
the battered throne of history — a sprung
barrel chair — his tiny slippered feet
resting on a mismatched ottoman
out on the driveway. Sunday’s
his day, he tells us. Sleeps late,
breakfasts on OJ and sips of “Morgan
Davis” — a consecrated beverage — ,
and delivers his great truths to anyone
slow enough or dumb enough to listen.
More Poems by Philip Levine