I was a stage manager
Curtains, lights, sound, backstage accommodations
I was the only one on that night
I beheld from many angles

I set up risers for the chorus
To march in and fill
Robes spinning with their rhythmic gyrations
As their voices tsunamied into the crowd

And the crowd played its part
Dressed to the nines
Jumping, hands upraised
To receive ecstatic bolts of angelic energy

Then the preacher took the pulpit
Asking who was ready for a bless sing
Two words, always two words
No one was sitting anymore

He said The Enemy was among them
The Enemy sought their hearts
The Enemy whispered in their ears
During all the dark moments of their life

But with the help of Ja He Sus
Always three words
They could cast The Enemy aside
And travel the path of righteousness

Who is ready to cast The Enemy aside
Who is ready to take Ja He Sus into their heart
Who is ready to have the strength of Ja He Sus
As they kick The Enemy right square in the backside

One by one they came up and the preacher
anointed them his hand drenched in Holy Oil
Coming down on their foreheads
Like Ja He Sus throwing a haymaker

They in turn would collapse
Or break into spasmodic dance
Or start speaking in tongues
Or all three at once

And now the preacher challenged them
The battle against The Enemy was going to be long and hard
Large men with pickle buckets circulated
As the chorus took to song again

Give what you can, but know this
God is watching, Ja He Sus by his side
And will measure your faith by how much
You support this ministry in its fight

Later, after more singing, more praying,
More opening hearts to Ja He Sus
After all the blessed attendees shuffled off
Radiant in the glow of their faith

I joined the minister and his crew backstage
As they counted out thousands
In small untraceable bills,
I realized this was just another show

*Craig Bertuglia says, “After leaving home at the age of fourteen I have, in my time, been a high school dropout, a juvenile delinquent, a mental patient, a punk rock musician, a monk (at a yoga ashram), and I then assailed the walls of academia.  I got an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1994 having received my BA in English Education (with a minor in Creative Writing) at the University of South Florida in 1992.  I worked as a Teen Services Librarian for Houston Public Library from 1999 till 2020, and am now happily retired.”