America #2 (The Murder of Rest)


All good things must come to an end,
and so, I murdered rest.
You read that right.
Read it again.
And for the sake of clarity,
at the expense of redundancy,
let me put it another way:
I strung up sabbath,
fastened a few millstones to its feet
(the neck seemed overly-dramatic),
and pitched it into the sea.


This is hyperbole.
No, maybe it’s not.


It’s the perfect crime if you consider:
the murder of constructed concept
produces no body, at least,
not straight-away.
There is a body in the end–
your own to be exact–
but a man’s gotta go somehow,
whether by the cigarettes,
the black-lunged cancer,
or the over-striving
of the green soul.

Come to think of it,
cigarettes might just
be the product
of over-striving.
Who knows.
I don’t.


Anyhow, the death of
a middle-class over-striver
goes barely noticed by investigators.
They don’t come knocking
with warrants and inquisition,
but send the youthful eulogizers
who say things like,
“he was such a hard-working man,” or
“he had a real protestant work ethic.”
They mourn the loss of the salt of the earth,
ascribe virtue to accomplishment,
to the ability to take time
and turn it into loaves and fishes.


Is this hyperbole?
I don’t know.
Maybe it’s not.


As a child, rest was second-nature,
maybe even first nature.
There were twelve hours of stillness
in any given Tuesday.
I slept, sure, but even waking
watched the frogs blinking
milky filmed eye-lids
from just above the surface
of an Ozark mud puddle.

I watched and watched.

I closed my eyes,
breeze against blush,
and gape-mouthed, gulped
the wind on which
scissor-tailed flycatchers rode.
I sat in the hammock of mother’s apron,
head against beating heart
as the thunderstorm lumbered
quaking across the Texas plains.

At one point or another,
I slept in all these places–
on the river bank by the mud-puddle,
in the gentle winds of a Texas field,
in my mother’s apron¬†hammock.


It was with great deliberation
and malice afore-thought, then,
that I murdered rest.
You ask the murderous motive,
and this is not the proper question.

Haven’t we always wanted to be
limitless man, greater than even
God who rested on the seventh day?
Haven’t we believed
that we could shine somehow brighter
than even the morning star?

Yes, questions of motive are obvious.
It is the question of resurrection
that takes greater imagination.

*Photo by Flick, Creative Commons via Flickr.

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  • Suzanne Terry

    “I closed my eyes, breeze against blush, and gape-mouthed, gulped the wind on which scissor-tailed flycatchers rode.” Perfect. It makes me miss home. And it makes me long for rest. Beautiful work!

    • sethhaines

      Thank you, Suzanne!

  • Lisa

    Stunning, in message and prose. Longing for those languishing summer days when still in mother’s care and the fields were safe for youthful expeditions.

    • sethhaines

      Thank you Lisa. I know that longing.

  • Jerry

    I’m looking for my hammock. I will work and work and work until I find it.

    • sethhaines

      That’s both funny, and maybe true, and I laughed out loud. Thanks for stopping in, Jerry.

  • pastordt

    You and Esther are on the same wave length today – good stuff, Seth. Thank you.

    • sethhaines

      Sharing a wave length with Esther is a privilege. She has some stuff straight.

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