Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO A CONTEMPORARY BUNKSHOOTER, by CARL SANDBURG



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TO A CONTEMPORARY BUNKSHOOTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You come along...Tearing your shirt...Yelling about
Last Line: Nazareth.
Variant Title(s): Billy Sunday
Subject(s): Jesus Christ


You come along . . . tearing your shirt . . . yelling about
Jesus.
Where do you get that stuff?
What do you know about Jesus?
Jesus had a way of talking soft and outside of a few
bankers and higher-ups among the con men of
Jerusalem everybody liked to have this Jesus
around because he never made any fake passes
and everything he said went and he helped the
sick and gave the people hope.

You come along squirting words at us, shaking your
fist and call us all damn fools so fierce the froth
slobbers over your lips . . . always blabbing we're
all going to hell straight off and you know all
about it.

I've read Jesus' words. I know what he said. You
don't throw any scare into me. I've got your
number. I know how much you know about
Jesus.
He never came near clean people or dirty people but
they felt cleaner because he came along. It
was your crowd of bankers and business men and
lawyers hired the sluggers and murderers who
put Jesus out of the running.
I say the same bunch backing you nailed the nails into
the hands of this Jesus of Nazareth. He had
lined up against him the same crooks and strong-
arm men now lined up with you paying your way.

This Jesus was good to look at, smelled good, listened
good. He threw out something fresh and beau-
tiful from the skin of his body and the touch of
his hands wherever he passed along.
You slimy bunkshooter, you put a smut on every human
blossom in reach of your rotten breath belching
about hell-fire and hiccupping about this Man
who lived a clean life in Galilee.
When are you going to quit making the carpenters build
emergency hospitals for women and girls driven
crazy with wrecked nerves from your gibberish
about Jesus? -- I put it to you again: Where
do you get that stuff? what do you know about
Jesus?

Go ahead and bust all the chairs you want to. Smash
a whole wagon-load of furniture at every per-
formance. Turn sixty somersaults and stand on
your nutty head. If it wasn't for the way you
scare the women and kids I'd feel sorry for you
and pass the hat.
I like to watch a good four-flusher work, but not when
he starts people puking and calling for the doc-
tors.
I like a man that's got nerve and can pull off a great
original performance, but you -- you're only a
bug-house pedlar of second-hand gospel -- you're
only shoving out a phoney imitation of the goods
this Jesus wanted free as air and sunlight.

You tell people living in shanties Jesus is going to fix
it up all right with them by giving them mansions
in the skies after they're dead and the worms
have eaten 'em.
You tell $6 a week department store girls all they need
is Jesus; you take a steel trust wop, dead without
having lived, grey and shrunken at forty years
of age, and you tell him to look at Jesus on the
cross and he'll be all right.
You tell poor people they don't need any more money
on pay day and even if it's fierce to be out of a
job, Jesus'll fix that up all right, all right -- all
they gotta do is take Jesus the way you say.
I'm telling you Jesus wouldn't stand for the stuff
you're handing out. Jesus played it different. The
bankers and lawyers of Jerusalem got their slug-
gers and murderers to go after Jesus just be-
cause Jesus wouldn't play their game. He.
didn't sit in with the big thieves.

I don't want a lot of gab from a bunkshooter in my
religion.
I won't take my religion from any man who never works
except with his mouth and never cherishes any
memory except the face of the woman on the
American silver dollar.
I ask you to come through and show me where you're
pouring out the blood of your life.
I've been to this suburb of Jerusalem they call Golgotha,
where they nailed Him, and I know if the story
is straight it was real blood ran from His hands
and the nail-holes, and it was real blood spurted
in red drops where the spear of the Roman soldier
rammed in between the ribs of this Jesus of
Nazareth.




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