Like a Thief in the Night – a poem by Paul Jaskunas

Like a Thief in the Night

I once rode out of a Tatra valley 
on a horse-pulled wagon 
with a priest who joked of God 
all the way to the Krakow train 
on which I’d be robbed 
of what little I owned 
by an old woman who promised
to pray for my soul. 

I do wish that priest had told me 
a little something of the meaning 
of just one of those peaks, 
which I’d photographed with my soon-to-be 
stolen camera, so sure of their importance.

Now I hear on the radio the Tatras 
are no more. 

They’ve changed their magnificent minds
about being mountains – got clear out
of the business – and were last seen 
swimming in the Caspian Sea 

which itself has a famously precarious
grip on reality.

At least, the priest and I have stayed in touch. 
He has written to say he’s been defrocked 
and spends his days mining fool’s gold 
from California rocks.

PS, he adds, the Lord is coming
like a thief in the night. 

Paul Jaskunas is the author of the novel Hidden (Free Press) and a novella forthcoming in 2024 from Stillhouse Press. His fiction, poetry, and journalism have appeared in numerous periodicals, including the New York Times, America, Tab, the Windhover, the Amethyst Review, and the Comstock Review. He teaches literature and writing at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he edits the art journal Full Bleed.

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