JESUS AND THE FRIED CHICKEN
by Ronnie Sirmans
I drive up through South Georgia,
and the words on an I-75 billboard
cannot be ignored. A sign of hope:
Let go, I’ll catch you.
The still-crisp italic letters float
next to sun-faded fried chicken,
either a big breast or two thighs,
extra crispy. But before my brain
can decipher faith’s ties to poultry,
I realize it’s really a scraggly crag
and toward the bottom of the sign
a rock climber who’s hanging on
has faded away. I bet the billboard
once held an unbleached blue sky.
For how long has that climber,
washed out to a rough outline
looking almost wholly ghost,
been hanging off the faded cliff
that I mistook for fried chicken?
The Revised Southern Version
of the Good Book would feed
fried chicken and biscuits to
the multitudes. There are signs:
Come ye to Chick-fil-A, KFC,
Popeyes, Zaxby’s, Church’s.
Such bounty, like God promised
His people so many years ago.
America, O my promised land
of fried, extra crispy, and grilled,
of strips, nuggets, and boneless,
even cubed in salads for penance.
Forgive me, for I have ordered mashed potatoes without the gravy
and I idolize the good fried chicken.
As I keep on driving, I notice on car
after car (a few with bumper stickers
proclaiming God or Jesus as co-pilot),
the minimalist symbol of a fish stuck
on their rears. Those intersecting arcs,
now I clearly see, resemble a drumstick.
Ronnie Sirmans is a digital editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, The South Carolina Review, Fathom, Heart of Flesh and elsewhere.