Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Ballroom of Heaven

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Ballroom of Heaven

Article excerpt

As a Boy Scout, Dad decoded

The dit-dit-dahs of Morse, the swashed flags

Of semaphore, bugled "Taps."

At war's end, trumpeted jazz,

Sported a dashing Errol Flynn mustache,

Drove a Mercury coupe, led a brass swing band.

Growing gray, he bought a Mustang,

Captained boats down the Chesapeake,

Tracked game, and bow-hunted bear

In the snow-packed Appalachians.

A snappy salesman with the gift of gab,

He spoke loquaciously, and loved to boast

Of his singular prowess - how he closed a sale,

Bagged a buck, or sang a tenor solo.

Rising late, he rode his route,

Carrying customers' cash, lugged

A black debit book, big as the Baltimore directory

Bound in crocodile hide, holstered a Colt

Semiautomatic, and often flashed

The gold badge bestowed by the Sheriff

When he ran the county's Democrats.

Then cause and effect was suddenly

Suspended. He got lost in a crossword

As in a cul-de-sac. …

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