Just below the Bible Belt
in the soul-heavy subtropics
I contrive a theology for myself.
This is the place for it, deep illusion,
has been for hundreds of years.
I shake dead leaves from trees
and eat exotic fruits off branches.
I make a quiet fuss of things.
I take to the piney woods at night
and run along the firebreaks.
I stray deep into the woods
and stay for a long time
unafraid of the dark or God’s will.
I like the woods but not nature.
My blood feels like old,
soured civilization blood.
It’s lonely here in the woods
and twiggy sounds break around me.
I leave here for someplace else,
someplace less alive, less holy.
Steve Lambert was born in Louisiana and grew up in Florida. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Pinch, Broad River Review, BULL: Men’s Fiction, Longleaf Review, Emrys Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal, Madcap Review, Sky Island Journal, Into the Void, Spry Literary Journal, The Gambler, Deep South Magazine, The Cortland Review, and many other places. In 2018 his poem, “A Serenade for Larkin,” won Emrys Journal’s Nancy Dew Taylor Poetry Award. He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and was a Rash Award in Fiction finalist. He is the author of the poetry collection Heat Seekers (Cherry Grove Collections, 2017). He lives with his wife and daughter in northeast Florida , where he teaches at the University of North Florida.