Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NEW APOCRYPHA: BUSINESS REVERSES, by EDGAR LEE MASTERS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE NEW APOCRYPHA: BUSINESS REVERSES, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Everything! Counter and scales
Last Line: In the land of galilee.
Subject(s): Bible; Religion; Theology

(Mark, Chapter VI.)

Everything! Counter and scales --
I'll take whatever you give.
I'm through, and off to Athens,
Where a man like me can live.

And Hipparch, the baker, is going;
My chum, who came with me
To follow the crowds who follow
The prophet of Galilee.

We two were there at Damascus
Dealing in figs and wine.
Nice little business! Some one
Said: "Here, I'll give you a line!

"Buy fish, and set up a booth,
Get a tent and make your bread.
There are thousands who come to listen,
They are hungry and must be fed."

And so we went. Believe me,
There were crowds, and hungry, too.
Five thousand stood in the desert
And listened the whole day through.

Famished? Well, yes. The disciples
Were saying to send them away
To buy their bread in the village,
But the prophet went on to say:

"Feed them yourselves, O you
Of little faith." But they said:
"We have just five little fishes
And two little loaves of bread."

We heard it, me and Hipparch,
And rubbed our hands. You see
We were there to make some money
In the land of Galilee.

We had stock in plenty. We waited.
I wiped the scales, and my chum
Re-stacked the loaves. We bellowed,
But no one seemed to come.

"Fresh fish!" I bawled my lungs out:
"Nice bread!" poor Hipparch cried,
But what did they do? Sat down there
In fifties, side by side,

In ranks, the whole five thousand.
Then -- well, the prophet spoke,
And broke the five little fishes,
And the two little loaves he broke.

And fed the whole five thousand.
Why, yes! So gorged they slept.
And we stood beaten and bankrupt.
Poor Hipparch swore and wept.

They gathered up twelve baskets
Full from the loaves of bread;
Five little fishes -- twelve baskets
Of fragments after they fed.

And we -- what was there to do
But dump our stock on the sand?
That's what we got for our labor
And thrift, in such a land.

We met a man near Damascus
Who had joined the mystagogues.
He said: "I was wicked as you men
Until I lost my hogs."

Now Hipparch and I are going
To Athens, beautiful, free.
No more adventures for us two
In the land of Galilee.

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