Prose Poem: All the gods
on the front lawn
by Peter Menkin
The blue truck is discernible now as part of the front yard garden. An old Ford with simple carburetor called a farm vehicle from 1965, the all steel monster filling the end of the driveway against the sidewalk and white picket fence is adorned with gods, figures, wicked and mean creatures of plaster and perhaps sculpted elves.
Mixed among the flowers by the walk, and towards the west where the mountains stand before the ocean begins is a line-up of gods like headstones for memory of previous tenants in this rooming house among the redwood trees. Are these the past lives, the left behind religious artifacts and special spirits and saints of residents gone sometime during the 30 years this house has been hospitable to people on a journey? Tiki is in stone, (white, black and white about three feet high). St. Francis and Cross is near the gate, about two thirds down the walk way (he looks just fine and there is more than one saint in beige like marble with or without cross).
No Benedict. Mary and maybe another Mary and a Martha and unknown but probably carried with them women of deep conviction seem planted like additional memories of gods and past lives adorning the local flowers as remembrances, and left behind items similar to forgetting a suitcase (these with hands in prayer and pink or light pink in color).
Inside the front porch is the last supper, a scene from the Upper Room (festive and in muted respectful blues and gold with grey).Right outside the front door, within the sun porch, sits a crucifix, like a real cross one would find in a small chapel somewhere stowed in a cabinet and left there with its presence reminding a past owner that the relic is a testimony of faith embattled, still giving hope and reminder of genuine faith (nearly brown with white, like wood, but made of some cast mix).
Are these the grateful dead monuments, leavings of discarded distractions worn away and dropped from site, waiting like patient reminders that somewhere in the grape vine bush growing along the side of the blue Ford truck is a God I recognize familiar and known. Along the side about four feet up is a shelf holding on it like a boy’s room holds favorite objects of sport and adventure for growing up with future promise sits aside other magical creatures a brown frog (ugly mud of clay) with bow tie, series of overlarge pine cones still complete side by side, and some places plastic flowers from like an Easter the culmination of reminder that something passed this way before and went on elsewhere.
Forever with Easter. Simple rooming house resident gods and things of faith, maybe like an angel.
Unlike a grove of Redwoods, gathered together in a field or among a series of trees in a setting that the eye can discern as park like and ancient with resting spirits and reclining peace, these are remnants of the Saints and gods, spirits of the woods, and adornments of virgin games on large lawns and private fields, in small houses, escaped private disasters, desperate moments, hurt times, terrible love affairs despaired, last dollar in the pocket, place to rest and save money, just a good room with security and some peace, injured and aged or disabled in pain, come to rest and be dropped behind as collections that really make no rock garden and portend little of a gold fish pond with exotic fish.
An amalgum of spirits, an amalgum of some powerful presence, these adornements and sacred objects to someone also held in disrepute and disgust, stand with the knowledge that a jaundice of doubt has come upon some who are here with a strong hand. Maybe not so, for they seem to live as planted stones.
Are these the grateful dead of the past lives, question. I wonder, and I approach, and I recognize every now and then the quiet of the graveyard and the heart of memory that is a small thing of collections that makes the rooming house a home for the man who keeps the rooms available through the years.
There is a sundial against the big front room window, elegantly classic. And overgrown near the always open in the summer screen door to the sun porch patio is a series of dolphin sculptures like found in expensive tourist gallery shops in Sausalito for visitors to spend much money on and take as a statement of the male and female neptune , living gods within the pods of the ocean near the edge of this western area.
Magic, gods, saints, crosses, religious statements, funny creatures, many wicked, and a large mannequin with a hard hat reading across the front peace, wearing work gloves and a slinky evening dress, short like a sexy dancer about to rave or do the twist is another of the gods of a venus who was resident, or worshiper of same.
This is an unusual entryway of front yard within the confines of the neighborhood block, patiently alive and awake, sometimes asleep and reminding one that the angels cheribum white with copper dragons above the front door intend to say the god of the Old Testament is here, too. Who could know the zen of followers of Jerry Brown, or a guru, or a struggling Catholic with a lot of love, or other mysterious statements about our only security is peace. One needn't subscribe to all these manifestations, elements, and quiet waiting memories that engage the passerby with the character of the rooming house since the front yard is always watered well and the statues of gods and saints seem well cared for in a distracted way of attentions.
This is the array of many protections invoked for privacy and retreat to the benefits of the roomers, who receive these gifts without additional charges to the usual rent and utilities.
Notes on photographs: "Pictures of Poppies" taken by Linda Shirado as a snapshot during a neighborhood walk in Mill Valley, California USA. Others below first "Pictures" snippets cropped from the same photograph. "Religious Candles" by Henry Worthy of London, England (Harry is a Benedictine Oblate of New Camaldoli).
Audio reading: Prose Poem: All the gods on the front lawn read by Peter Menkin