Tuesday 9:00 a.m.

By: Denver Butson

I keep coming back to poet Denver Butson’s “Tuesday 9:00 a.m.” as we seek to start churches and make a difference in the urban contexts of our region. What does the following poem provoke in you? Why do you think I believe it can tell us something about city ministry?

A man standing at the bus stop

reading the newspaper is on fire

Flames are peeking out

from beneath his collar and cuffs

His shoes have begun to melt

The woman next to him

wants to mention it to him

that he is burning

but she is drowning

Water is everywhere

in her mouth and ears

in her eyes

A stream of water runs

steadily from her blouse

Another woman stands at the bus stop

freezing to death

She tries to stand near the man

who is on fire

to try to melt the icicles

that have formed on her eyelashes

and on her nostrils

to stop her teeth long enough

from chattering to say something

to the woman who is drowning

but the woman who is freezing to death

has trouble moving

with blocks of ice on her feet

It takes the three some time

to board the bus

what with the flames

and water and ice

But when they finally climb the stairs

and take their seats

the driver doesn’t even notice

that none of them has paid

because he is tortured

by visions and is wondering

if the man who got off at the last stop

was really being mauled to death

by wild dogs.

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