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Was That You Boss

J. Stephen Rhodes
Resource Publications, 66 pages

J. Stephen Rhodes is a fearless poet who dares to write with irony, humor and humility about the wild, inscrutable God-who-is-Boss. Reading Rhodes’ poems, one catches glimpses of an unposed devout life, wrestling with the Holy One who delights in our wrestling. In fact, Boss often appears in the human mosh pit with us.

Rhodes’ images are wry displays of a human spirit thoroughly enfleshed. All creatures show up in these poems that are as much like psalms as the originals. Rhodes asks: “the hoot owl Boss/ yellow-breasted chat/ is that you/ looking for conversation” He then continues the dialogue-as-prayer: “do you get miffed/ when I don’t notice/ thumbs in my suspenders/ like I’ve got better things to do?” These poems – deliberately unpunctuated – dare hard questions: “what about the liars Boss/ hoax-makers deceivers/ … they know me well enough/ to stick fingers in my wounds … O pin them with their lies Boss/ corral them with truth/ so that when you open wide/ your door Boss everyone / can breathe again.”

Rhodes has taken his inspiration from the poet Maurice Manning; yet he takes it in a fresh direction. One can hear the heart of the poet, sometimes in puzzlement over questions without answers, sometimes in wonderment of the holy intimacy that exists at all times. Like the best poets, indeed like the psalmists, Rhodes draws us into the mystery of a God who remains wildly inscrutable and as close as our own breathing.

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