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Churches burn in a kind of Kansas

where all have the likeness of sense.

Titus, attendant, utters phrases from a manual

in a language he does not speak.

Titus—the only ghost in his room—

bears witness to the rapture at Wichita.

Does the room where he sits understand

that the roof above it’s on fire?

This room, its walls coated in encaustic.

Titus follows cracks wandering down the facture.

Cracks become paths through the sibilant grasses

on the plains fired by imaginary rhymes.

The silhouettes of bison texture the horizon—

they rumble a noise in his head.

Their fifty shaggy bulks form a lexicon

each of whose entries fails a name.

Whom was a picture of drawn by

fire that clothes the prairie in gold?

What spells the land sounds of Sunday

like a shout to the untrained ear.

Quakes Titus, rapt in fits of ecstasy,

speaking in tongues in Kansas in flames.

from ParamnesiaFind more by John Tipton at the library

Copyright © John Tipton
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

Published in John Tipton Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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