Poetry Porch: Poetry


by Richard Moore

   O wise God of our fathers,
we love You, yet . . . one question bothers:
   has no one ever quashed
reports that Jesus seldom washed?
   And who can think a greasy
and soiled St. Francis of Assisi
   could cleanly love The Lord?
Shall we imagine he ignored
   those lice between his toes
when he blessed each creature that grows
   each creature, born or hatched?
Shall we suppose he never scratched
   though vexed with itching poxes?
Who can resolve such paradoxes?

   You can, God of our daughters!
swirler of heated soapy waters,
   immaculate machine,
where DUZ does everything so clean.
   Cleanse us, if we have sinned,
spin-dry us, lest we flap in wind,
   exposed to harmful germs.
As every snowy shirt affirms
   with underdrawers in chorus,
a new white Idol stands before us,
   rolling its sudsy eye.
America, thy sons reply,
   Down with the old gods! Beat
them into scrap, they’re obsolete.

   Warranted washer, prim
in thy enamel and chrome trim,
   we celebrate thy birth.
Whirl on! Protect us from the earth!
   Lead forth this Land’s creations
and sterilize the unwashed nations;
   O thou, our helm and shield,
launder those lilies of the field!


Copyright © 1971 by Richard Moore. This poem first appeared in Harper’s Magazine and is included in Moore’s first book of poetry, A Question of Survival, University of Georgia Press, 1971.