In My Fatherís House

J. Matthew Boyleston


In the beginning,

God created the world

to the Adagio of Mozartís Clarinet Concerto in A Major.


All opens before me ó

an isosceles sky,

rent cotton,

the white steeple of a Baptist church:

this is the setting for all stories.


But how to make you understand?

To be understood? ó

a janitor fingering for a flipped breaker

in the basement of a school.


Books become latitudes

and latitudes books


like remembering the town

you grew up in, the house

in which Miss Havisham lived


or a forest clinging to the steaming power plant

on the riverís edge.


I will now list the blessings Iíve received:

a swift kick in the ass,

synthesis, association, allergies

a cup half empty and half full.

a ≤ + b≤ = c ≤,

the lines of earth.


But here is the thing about the prodigal son.

Who didnít raise him right to begin with?


My father once set the church roof on fire

with Roman candles on the Fourth of July.


Dead pumpkins

melting behind the shed all year.


My grandfather surprisingly heavy in his casket

like a ripe melon dug from the vine.


Life was grass stains and the sap from trees.

There were open fields,

then a sign in an open field For Sale,

then a field with a nursing home in it,

then a nursing home with the memory of a cotton field.


Life in the wasteland of the chestnut blight.


Knowing enthusiasm means ďGod in us.Ē


Knowing nothing but the Sandhills and the Edisto.


Memory, imagination:

no one comes to the father but through me.




J. Matthew Boyleston is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and English at Houston Baptist University.His poems and essays have appeared in Puerto del Sol, The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and The New Orleans Review among others.