Standing just out of range of a streetlamp, I watch the shadows of tree branches move along the empty avenue. Almost every night, I come to stare at this vacant lot on the corner—the spot where the Lighthouse Baptist Church once stood.
One drunken Saturday night in 1985 my father, lonely for God, broke into the little wooden sanctuary and doused the whole place with gasoline. Then he took a seat in the front pew, lit a Lucky Strike, and burned the son-of-a-bitch down around his ears.
My father spent most of his life in a rage. When the whiskey was talking, the old man raved about “search and destroy” patrols wiping out entire Vietnamese villages. When there was no one left to waste, they’d flip open their cigarette lighters and burn everything to the ground—“Zippo Party.”
There was a time when I believed my father was a hero. There was a time when I believed in simple right and wrong. There was a time when I believed in all of the “Necessary Illusions.” Enough to put my soul on the line. Enough to go out and confront things I didn’t understand.
Bent under the weight of things that can never be set straight, I slide a shaky right hand inside my jacket pocket and retrieve a half-pint of I.W. Harper. I raise a toast to the Lighthouse Baptist Church.
Somewhere a lost dog howls. I step from the curb—a windblown bird into the crazy night.
DB Cox is a Marine Corps veteran and blues musician/writer from South Carolina. His poems have been published extensively in the small press, in the US and abroad. He has published five books of poetry: Passing For Blue, Lowdown, Ordinary Sorrows, Night Watch, and Empty Frames. DB recommends the Best Friends Animal Society.