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A Knoxville Poem: Pentecost 1965


Marianne Worthington is co-founder and poetry editor of Still: The Journal, an online literary journal publishing contemporary literature of Central Appalachia and the Mountain South. She grew up in Knoxville, Tn., and now lives, teaches, and writes in Williamsburg, Ky.

Pentecost 1965


First Creek churns under the 5th Avenue

viaduct in the old part of town. Brick

warehouses stand witness to a Sunday

shifting toward a lazy haze. Summer is coming.

The girl watches for the Acts Man riding

his bicycle down Central Avenue. He’s duct-

taped plastic sheets to dowels, built a shelter

so he can ride in all weathers. She likes

to read his hand-scrawled signs fixed to his bike-

tent, verses from the Acts of the Apostles.

At church the preacher could call him a witness

for Jesus, but the Acts Man is black and poor,

ignored, even though we all see him every day.

He peddles down Magnolia Avenue like it’s the road

to Damascus. The preacher cries about tongues

of fire and a mighty rushing wind but the green

branches sway easy when the Acts Man passes.

After church the girl’s great feast will be killed

lettuce and onions, sidemeat and skillet

cornbread set on a red Formica table top.

And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come,

they were all with one accord in one place.

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