Soapbox Sam had his deal, his own special schpeel.
Finding security in predictability amongst wild things.
He preached weekly above the cobblestone well —
the communal sink and laundry,
a space to clean collateral damage from living.
He would clutch his smock atop the soapbox,
beyond the stench of greywater and the grime of grub,
warning the busy bees communing
that excess and errant ways prelude deluge.
Warnings he wagged at the confused,
for he mentioned former floods
and fires, already faded and fizzled.
Soapbox Sam preached on the days of Lent that
self-control could stave off
upheavals of pain. Trimming
decadence was akin to vaccinating the village
against uninvited guests of
The woodsmen, secret agents of change, brokers of broken limbs,
scoffed at his warnings, deploring his imploring
for they had seen fires make way for
houses, morels, and clear
undergrowth, easing access to the bones of home.
Maybe, moral failings are red herrings.
Maybe, disaster is nature’s way of pampering and cleansing,
like smothering saunas that raise the heat —
circulating blood, unclogging pores
detoxifying galore — maybe,
calamity builds immunity for the community.
Soapbox Sam sold deliverance his way,
fires and floods are preventable guests, he swayed.
Disaster topples a town, he secretly prayed away.
Constraint was his protection against a spell of change.
Gain protection, he pleaded, by
giving up decadent ways,
or alas, another awful metamorphosis will surely reign.
Blowing smoke into the town’s ears clogged from insistence,
his chest moaned because his life depended on their decisions.
But he was met with feigned ignorance or, simple resistance.
He groaned, for so little change was made in the mainstream taste.
Laughing monks sliced their cheese; salami shined bright in the window case.
Bakers whipped batter with glee as Bob’s burgers soothed a tired family.
The lively town feasted life’s disasters away as
Soapbox Sam cocooned calamities his way.
One day a flash flood ripped through the town and swept away Sam’s soapbox.
Having no more predictable place, he hung his head and huddled up on the lackey’s bench.
Pooped and deflated, he cried for the security that his purpose carried.
On a rainy May day, the daughter of one of the woodsmen brought her newly carved broom to Sam’s aide.
He didn’t notice her cheery face as he was lost in the amorphous clouds, tinted in grey.
She brushed his face with bottom of the broom, wiping his tears with scratchy whiskers.
He did not appreciate the giggling child’s ways and snapped quickly into hopeless rage. He grabbed the stick and screamed at the heavens, cursing his impotence to affect change.
A murder of crows was startled and flitted away, expelling white droplets in exchange.
White goop covered his beard like a sticky patch of snow.
The stench dug deep and refused to yield to Sam’s erasing.
His failure made him feel much more enraged, until he snapped the broomstick in a flurry of pain.
He felt like an abominable snowman, with growling fists and a
belly of hurt,
but he couldn’t let it out because the foes he was fighting was a silly girl and some
Skipping around the town she demanded a meeting at the well, she said Sam had an important announcement to tell.
Already clearing the drains and collecting the runoff, the town slowly congealed, hoping they wouldn’t have their noses rubbed in another salvation schpeel.
She slipped a sack of moldy potatoes in the hands of Sam as the villagers gathered around.
Stuck in his lament, he didn’t hear the crowd’s groaning sounds.
The girl climbed stone by stone to the rim of the well and threw her voice into a powerful swell, “Don’t fear the flood, for the source of our pain is not in the mud. The way we feel divided is the deluge that covers our hearts in crud. The real terror is not the inclement weather, but the way we corral ourselves from each other. Connection is the only inoculation from disaster and devastation. We all carry the keys to healing and salvation.”
Sam here will pass around a potato and a peel.
He has found a new way for us to face change and deal.
Take a moment, and let yourself feel your own calamity, the way you feel separate from yourself and the community.
Fill the potato with the way you feel estranged — despair, fear, resentment, and pain.
Slowly shave the stuck energy by peeling the moldy skin.
Share with your neighbor the way you feel sinned.
Give a hug and nudge if they feel shy or scared.
Acknowledging their brave effort with warmth and care.
Sam, the Son of the Santa
will gather your offerings,
place them in his burlap sack,
and give them to the crows.
Our winged friends will deposit them near the hearth in the garden’s furrows.
They will nourish the soil that Sam will sprinkle with seeds providing a new place for everyone to harvest and feast.
The townspeople appreciated Sam facilitating honest exchange.
Sam held weekly “honesty hours” where hurt and fear was set aflame.
Sam embraced his role as a tender of shoots-and-leaves, becoming a loyal preacher of nature’s alchemy.
Learning the ways of humus and composting, he turned the waste of the village into edible matrimony.
The fires and floods didn’t disappear but the community’s trust and connection helped stave off hopelessness when it began to appear.