On being asked if I share the gospel with my students – a poem by Jen Stewart Fueston

On being asked if I share the gospel with my students

I know I’m not getting any of this guy’s money.
Because this is the missionary equation —
I with my presentation and my worn out
shoes, a life honed to a single point.

He with the presumption that he’s sending me,
like a spy or a timebomb, into the forsaken
darkness, like a single ember bright-lit
in a censer swung across the map.

His is a gospel of nets. Of capture. His is the gospel
that asks, If you died tonight, do you know for sure
you’d go to heaven? A gospel of the escape
route, the secret doorway, the cheat.

I can speak his language like a native, but can’t
quite find a way to tell him, I am no ember.
That mine is a gospel of tanks
rusting in the snow, a gospel of grass

growing over the place they massacred
their neighbors. A gospel of guard shacks peeling
off their paint. A gospel of old songs being sung
in the tavern, of year by year clear water filling up

the empty missile silo, of new bricks
making straight the rough streets.


Jen Stewart Fueston lives in Longmont, Colorado. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, most recently Ruminate, Rock & Sling, and The St. Katherine Review. Her poems have twice been finalists for the McCabe poetry prize, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first chapbook, “Visitations,” was published in 2015, and her second, “Latch,” will be released in early 2019. She has taught writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder, as well as internationally in Hungary, Turkey, and Lithuania.

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