Mat Wenzel

Bible Student Burns New York Church


There are two schools, I think, when it comes to rules

about biblical annotation. At my school, they never


stacked another book on top of a bible, never put one

on the floor, never added a single word to the pages,


turned them carefully to avoid ripping, washed hands

to prevent staining, told men the spiritual girls clutched


their bibles close to their, ahem, hearts, and not down

at their side like a man. I held my wide margin edition


close to my heart—did I not love God? and I wrote

all over the margins in blue ink, made exclamations,


hopped between cross references like a happy bird.

Get down, Caleb Uriah. Sit next to my open scriptures.


It is hard for you to kick against the pricks. Let me light

upon your lap. Listen to my happy song. I love Him


like a love letter, thin from all the folding and unfolding,

the salt and oil of my fingers, here a tear I didn’t know


I’d cried, here a mark I don’t remember receiving.

Shamgar struck down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.


Let me peck your cheek, lie my soft bill against your neck.

I will dance between your strong legs. Lie back, let


the breeze blow through you. Lay down your burden.

Open yourself to me. Let in my fervent prayer.


Caleb Uriah—your name means dog; your name means

stranger, means the light of God. Caleb Lussier, 21, burned


the whole church down, admitted pouring gasoline

on the lavender carpet, left the bag of bibles outside,


wrote in one: “I am sorry this had to happen, but you

brought it upon yourself—Shamgar.”


Mat Wenzel has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Glitterwolf Magazine, Penumbra, Guide to Kulchur Creative Journal, Right Hand Pointing, Off the Rocks Anthology, Emerge: a Lambda Literary Fellows Anthology, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Mat is a PhD student at Florida State University, a recent MFA graduate from Ashland University, and a Lambda Literary Fellow (2015).

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