When I Became Thomas

Father’s grammar — imperative,
Do not leave the table, but wait
for me to finish.
Who puts food
on the table? Our Father who

delivers me, almost thirteen,
to Bible camp, Do not leave
Jerusalem, but wait for the gift
my Father promised.

be the tater tots & chocolate milk
cartons which sustain me
through a week when I did not
sleep or shower or shit, least

of these, though I snuck
from the bunk late at night,
to the swimming pool lockers,
to toilets where I could be alone

with the Lord, waiting until Friday,
when the camp nurse found me
hunched over on concrete slick
from the feet of a thousand teenage

disciples who believe in fart jokes
and the Holy Spirit. Bless her who
held a damp rag to my brow,
who called father to drive me home.


Growing Pains
Clemson, South Carolina

The First Baptist Church sign flashes neon
to no one – Open 24/7 Online! – as I stalk up
Tiger Boulevard, deserted, to Starbucks. Cue
my childhood fear, reading Left Behind & the house
gone suddenly still, everyone raptured except for me.
In 2001, Kirk Cameron starred in the film adaptation
as Buck Williams, a journalist left behind at the rapture
& founding member of the Tribulation Force. Cue
my childhood queered, this Sunday fantasy of rapture
& Cameron finding me. Taking me behind the strip mall,
burnt out Schlotzsky’s Deli & Tiger Pride Tanning Salon.
Brandishing rope, tying me to the scorched blue dumpster,
repopulating an earth the others left behind with my womb.

D. GILSON is the author of I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015); Crush, with Will Stockton (Punctum Books, 2014); Brit Lit (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013); and Catch & Release (Seven Kitchens Press, 2012). Gilson is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Texas Tech University. (@dgilson)