P.S. Dean

P.S. Dean is a Mississippi native who lives with his wife in New Orleans. He received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Mississippi in May of 2013 and is currently at work on his first book.

In the Year of the Simultaneous Savior

I played the boy Christ
who received royal gifts
from three magi. I posed
as the son of a shepherd,
quaking in angelic spotlight.
The cold air cradled me.
I waited for the cues.
Just for one night, I wanted
to stretch out in snow so rare
when the first slivers fell,
my belief an instant held up
in praise of a small, infant song.

In The Sanctuary’s Back Pews

I watched a man pretending
to be Christ stagger up the aisle
with a two by four on his shoulder.

Two soldiers with Roman plumes
flanked him, ready to slap
his back with those Jesus whips.

My brother said they were real
cat o’ nine tails from Egypt, but I knew
they were from some county barn.

At center stage, they bound him
at the ankles and pushed a crown
of barbed wire around his forehead.

When the soldiers raised Jesus up
in front of the audience, he bit down
on the blood capsules and howled.

As every head bowed, we slipped
out before the collection, kept dollars
hidden until we were in the parking lot.

We heard the organ start up, bet
each other on who made it home first
through the silent congregation of night.


photo by: Loz Flowers

Eagle Lake

And the first muck of morning light, the old man wakes
his daughter’s son from a half-dream of scales and ice,
their johnboat drifting through the reeds. The boy fumbles
with the hook’s knot, what the old man calls city hands,
that know how to dog-ear a storybook and trace
the cursive laces of his sneakers. Not like his grandfather
chucking the anchor near a stump, who lets his body
become part of the lake’s calm wind—who in these later years
has tried to forget the fog and gunpowder on the Yalu River.
Sometimes, the old man feels the stiff formations of pines shift closer,
tries to hide the scarred map on his shaking palms.
He can still smell the cinders. When the boat passes
into the shade of a willow tree, a dark coil drops hissing
near the boy. The old man pins the moccasin under an oar
and lops off the head with his skinning knife, its tail scrolling
into a stillness. He stretches the skin out like a serif
across the bow, breaking the boy into a world he’s longed for,
bloody words of the past painted against metal.