The New Creature
~ from THE BROKEN POEM and Other Strange Ideas About God
by John Berry
Long after the Universe began to bunch
Itself in small fists, and take the first
Wild swings at the retreating emptiness
And not just the ones you’re thinking
Of now, but many creatures, great and
Small, each with their own special
None was without their oddment ~ roots
And fins and teeth, feathers and legs, the
Seasonal mobility of seeds, and stones
Seated firmly in their chairs.
And none so rudimentary as to be
Casually heaped like cheap coppers in a
Greedy dragon’s lair of golden living
Things ~ a hoarder God was not.
God loved each precious, living jewel
And spread the wealth of life from star
To star and planet to planet. Some, like
The ones you were thinking of just now
Misunderstood God’s love, and
Consequentially, began to think very
‘They certainly think very
Don’t they?’ Darkness said
God often said things like that, and
Darkness, being Darkness, and
Unimpeachably blunt never shied from
Revealing the obvious to God.
As all the stories go, there were rivalries
They’d go on like that for a few forevers
If Silence wasn’t there to shush them
Though she was just as apt to throw
Some bark of her own sometimes
Like a long and devoted companionship
Once you get the hang of molding
Something out of clay, it gets easier with
Practice, and this was just as true for
Even breathing life into form becomes
Something you grow used to, if it can
Ever be said one can grow accustomed
But in all the best ways any artist knows
The challenges and difficulties of saying
Something new, this was what
‘What’s this one going to
Be?’ God’s friend Gravity
‘Oh! Sort of like the great
There, and there, and over
There.’ he said, pointing in
The kingfisher dropped from the branch
And lilted down the river like a flame
‘See!’ Gravity exclaimed.
‘Ok. I think I understand.
God deftly molded the unmistakable
Shape of the Rainbow Bird, held it out to
'Oh, right, I didn't think
Of it like that.
After all?’ Gravity asked.
Gravity thought for a moment about
God chuckled warmly, touching Gravity
This was very puzzling for Gravity
Gravity became very serious, absently
Touching The Black Hat on his head.
God wrote that last part down, intending
To gift it to a poet in the future.
God held up the lump of clay.
‘But, none of that is true!’
Gravity objected, shaking.
You to do that? It sounds
‘I see why you’re troubled.’
For a long time Gravity and God sat
Quietly; God, absently kneading the
Clay, and Gravity holding The Black Hat
Of Future Labors in his hands, picking
Off lint and bits of leaves, thinking.’
Gravity thought for a moment
‘Then, I think you should
Bio: John Berry lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife, Brenda, and their yorkie companion, Molly. A woodworker since his early teens, John teaches private woodworking classes now, and officiates weddings with his wife through their company, Sacred Celebrations. After putting aside a lifelong addiction to alcohol at the age of 47, John rediscovered his first love, poetry, and published his first chapbook, Wobbly Man, in 2016. His second and third collections: Medicine, and The Lawnmower Poems were published by Foothills Publishing in 2017 and 2019, and his work has appeared in publications such as The Blue Mountain Review, The Sow’s Ear Review, The Green Silk Journal and various anthologies. His poem, Human Beans, won an honorable mention in the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred contest in 2021, and was published in Parabola magazine.
His latest work, The Broken Poem and Other Strange