Sunday, May 15, 2011


Just kids, we knew or thought we knew our friend,
Solemn as a stag in the gazettes.
On Saturdays in summer we’d drop in.
He’s smile, place childish fingers on the frets.

The hint of age, a shuffle as he’d rise
to cross his room, when the Victrola’s sound
Seemed suddenly to intrude. Our surprise
was new each time he shut the volume down,

Then lift the needle and bang down the lid.
He’d turn. Get out! He’d curtly us command.
The inner voices not so quickly rid
Unloved companions of our aged friend.  

Before crimson effusions were released
Requiring the prompt presence of police.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Was Fit, Joe Rentfro's House for Sunday Prayers

Was fit, Joe Rentfro's house for Sunday prayers.
To English and their slaves, readers read verse.
King James Bible, not Kings' or Queens' but theirs.
One hundred forty years, blessings and curse

Flowed over colonists. The K J B.
Its cadences, their phrasings, lyric chimes
Had marked them plainly English to a tee.
No priest on hand, changed prayers to pantomimes?

The Jew invites the English, self select.
One goal, one law, one Lord, and Him, "of Hosts"
In certainty, saw frontier paths correct
By God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Joseph and Mary Rentfro's practice gave,
Hope to the English, solace to the slave.


Today, May 2, 2011, is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, the KJV.

Joseph Rentfro and his wife Mary Owens, ancestors of the poet, opened their home in the the Blackwater region of Virginia Colony (old Lunenburg county) to Sunday services in the Anglican tradition. 

In 1751, young William Cook (c.1720- c1784) was a reader at service, in the absence of a priest.

A version of this sonnet appears in SPLENDID LIVES AND OTHERWISE (Nativa LLC, 2011), available, including download, at