William Ford: "Orange County Church"


The drive-in theater opens

with a rock star singing

gospel blues to honor

Mahalia Jackson.

Bible and hymnal hang chained

from each speaker post.


The infield fills quickly with cars

and boats, some of them flapping

tiny American flags from aerials,

the beach their final destination.


The minister, dressed in white,

speaks from a podium visible

from all the way back,

his gestures as broad as those

in a stage play or a silent film.


After the announcement

that God loves a cheerful giver

golf carts with baskets scurry

car by car down the aisles

collecting the offering.


The sermon explains John 3: 16,

God’s love for all peoples

regardless of race or gender

and the hell that’s waiting

unless they turn to Jesus

and the nation to right living.


When the organ plays “Just as I Am,”

the invitation is given

and with tears running down their sides

many cars drive forward.



William Ford has two chapbooks, Allen & Ellen and Descending with Miles, forthcoming from Pudding House Press. His poems have also appeared in Southern Humanities Review, Prairie Schooner, Hamilton Stone Review, and elsewhere.