An American Legend

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by Jeff Jeppesen

Jesus was the best of us but he’s been and gone.anamericanlegend

When he was a boy, the sky darkened and Jesus’s Daddy

thundered from the storm clouds,

“Who chopped down my cherry tree where dwelt my son,

your half-brother,

Serpent?” And Jesus was sorely troubled.

“I am unable to lie, Dad,” He said. “I did it and I am sorry.”


Jesus was cast out into America to travel the land, heal the sick,

stuff like that.

Along the way He planted apple trees to feed us.

He wanted to plant cherry trees, atonement and such,

but the seeds no longer trusted Him. They stayed

in the ground, sleepy, plotting.

We’d had apples before so that was fine.


In the Desert Southwest the wronged Serpent tempted Him,

but Jesus fought for us.

With His hatchet, He swung and missed the belly crawler.

Yet water flowed from the rock He cleaved in two,

washing the Serpent away

out of America and her schools.


One time, Jesus came upon a gathering of Unwashed Malcontents–

dense as a small forest,

mistaking grumbles and complaints for calls to action.

But when He strummed for them

“The Star Spangled Banner” upon His axe

the dissemblers wept and found they loved America after all.


Jesus told us once that our lives

are like trying to move through a darkened house

using only a camera flash for illumination.

I don’t think anyone really knows

what He was talking about. But He fed us.


To his Father’s house so many times, Jesus tried to return,

always turned back. “America is not through with you, Son.

You are not through with America.

To her, You are My face and My hand. Make her love Me again,

My boy.”

So Jesus solved our own housing crisis

by taking on the Predatory Lenders with a two-fisted rage

we had never before seen.

When exposed to the light of truth,

their deceit boiled away to vapor.

They fled to the desert shouting obscenities.


In the end Serpent,

returned through the lassitude of Malcontents

and the sniveling of Predatory Lenders,

convinced us that Jesus was meddlesome,

irksome, preaching for change

only for the sake of change.

Poor Old Serpent had been perfectly content

in his cherry tree, but that boy Jesus had an ax

and needed to chop.


We are all Unwashed Malcontents and we nailed Him

to a pole, left Him there until dead.

Storm clouds seethed.

Jesus’s blood soaked the ground beneath Him as he suffered,

nourishing the soil.

Cherry seeds sprouted in sheer glee.

A cherry has a heart hard as stone.

When it was done, when we had left the hill,

America at last saw the Father in the Boy,

took Him home and healed His hurts.


He is apart from us now. We are sorry

for what we did. We move through darkness

alone, always hoping to see Him soon.


BIO: Jeff Jeppesen is an IT professional and writer living in Warner Robins, Georgia. His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, Everyday Poets, The Houston Literary Review, Illumen, Falling Star Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Not One of Us, and Shot Glass Journal.