Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Sheol Farm

by Bill Gillard

I awoke naked and cold and found myself at the edge of a dark 
forest Jesus stood next to me he pointed into the black 
wood and said come on Joe come on but I was tired and sore 

from the things ’d done and I didn’t feel much like taking a 
walk so I pointed at the distant golden lights right there across that 
field so close you could read the Bible by it I joked and Jesus spake

whatever the short cut home took us into a wide spinach 
field heavy with cultivation Jesus wasn’t happy he kind 
of grumbled under his breath halfway across a dog 

barked and the door of the farmhouse swung open 
and flooded the green carpet with soft light we dropped 
to the burying earth and looked out just above the dark 

leaves a farmer stood outlined in his kitchen’s yellow 
who that out there he shouted you better run now go git ’em 
girl and we did run stumbling and crashing the dog’s bark 

and snarl closer and closer I laughed when Jesus tripped and 
said his own name I asked him if it was a sin but he was out 
of breath from running and said go to hell and kind of half 

smiled so I figured we were golden but then he stopped 
and didn’t say a word let me run a few more steps right 
into the fence how could he let me end up draped 

over the field’s barbed wire edge this close to home free 
like laundry on a line every movement a fresh star of pain 
like being stabbed by a stranger who wants your TV I told 

you not to come this way he said and threw his robe over the 
barbed wire next to me clambered up and over eyed me from 
the other side get me down I cried but he just shook his head 

sadly ankle deep in the soybeans of paradise and me hanging 
up there food for crows and I couldn’t help myself I laughed 
and coughed this is me and it always has been yes Jesus said 

yes tears rolled down my cheeks each coughing spasm drove 
the thin rusted barbs like a serrated knife somebody might 
find handy in a kitchen when the old man comes downstairs

a crash and a hiss and three dogs bit at my ankles and Jesus 
was gone a gruff voice from the shadows you’re mine now 
the farmer said twin shotguns like wings on his shoulders


SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Bill Gillard

is an award-winning teacher of creative writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin, Fox Valley. His writing has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, The Literary Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, River Poets Journal, Chiron Review, Paradigm, Review Americana, Dark Sky Magazine, and many others. His most recent chapbook is Ode to Sandra Hook (Finishing Line Press). He earned an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a recovering youth hockey coach.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury