I asked John Dean what he saw the night he jumped
off the True Baptist church bell.
He stayed up there long enough for the fire fighters
to fling a trampoline, some kind of thing, under him.
And he seemed happy enough that night, in a swan dive,
in a fine leap, with his hands raised & folded like
a prayed up swimmer.
He said he saw the tail lights of a thousand cars,
all of them leaving town, in a straight line.
He said he saw Preacher Barrett in a sports jacket,
and what appeared to be a dozen, black shielded shadows
gathered round a swimming pool & he thought,
damn, that looks small! but he jumped anyway because,
somehow he hated to pass the torch, and set a bad example,
since he was the only one up there, up for the dive.

Phibby Venable's work has been published in 2River, Poetrybay, Southern Ocean Review, Sow's Ear, Voices, the Appalachian Journal & various other national & international mags. Phibby Venable lives in Abingdon, Virginia. Much of her writing depicts the Appalachian & Blue Ridge Mountains.  She works in human & animal rescue.
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