Hnn | HNN Articles

Humanist Voices in Verse: Joseph The Carpenter

 

This week we’re pleased to publish “Joseph The Carpenter” by HNN Poetry Editor Daniel Thomas Moran. He served as Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, New York from 2005 to 2007. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Forum, and the Poetry Salzburg Review. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine. His website is www.danielthomasmoran.net.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to hnn@americanhumanist.org with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.

Joseph The Carpenter

Joseph was a carpenter,
in a world of few trees,
and with a left thumb nearly
always some shade of blue.

It was that whimsical dealer of destiny,
who came to call upon him
in those last months B.C., while
he perplexed over a set of bookshelves,
and spake to him (as only He could spake),
that The Almighty had a job for him.
Well, more like a favor to ask.
Would he mind in Joseph’s new bride, Mary
(whom he had yet to coax into consummation)
did bear Him a son, and would Joseph
(or Joe as The Creator liked to call him)
mind raising the lad as his own
no questions asked?

Then Joseph,
who had as recently as the day before
refused to loan his favorite saw
to his next door neighbor, said,
“Lord, I am a simple man,
as you probably know, but
I did not just roll into town
on an oxcart full of dung and
as you have probably heard,
my wife Mary is yet a virgin, and…”

The Divine One stopped him in his tracks
saying, “Fear not Joe, for I will not so much
as lay a single hand upon her and
perhaps I could get the temple down the block
to throw you a little business.”

And Joseph, being a simple, God-fearing man
and who remembered the tales of Job
and his boils and of  the sky raining
locusts and hot coals on Cairo (and
whose business had been off a bit
since those nasty, garlic soaked Romans
confiscated all of the wood) decided
What the Hell?
And The Lord was pleased that
He did not have to go through planning
another round of plagues and pestilence.

So…….
The months passed quickly, and
Mary, the wife of Joseph grew and grew
and grew some more until
it looked as though she were
concealing a medicine ball
beneath her maternity cloaks.
Then one day in December, while
he was flailing away on a
magazine rack for the temple lounge,
he heard once more the voice
of Him who sounded like James Earl Jones.
“Today will come notice that you must
return to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.
Do this quickly and without fear, for
I have made you reservations.”

And so……
Joseph placed his wife atop a hearty burro,
and dragged them both across the desert
back to his old stomping ground,
where he had not been since
his ten year reunion at Bethlehem High.
When they arrived at The Inn, the clerk said
(with a distinctly cynical snicker) that
he had not reservations for anyone
named Joseph and The Virgin Mary,
and that he was sure there could not
be a bed had for miles.

And Joseph, upon hearing that news,
was not a happy man though
he was not as miserable as the burro.
Mary, like a good Jewish wife,
never complained, but made Joseph aware
that she clearly saw virginity in her future.
When she heard that she would
have to be giving birth in a barn,
surrounded  by sweaty sheep and camel breath,
things almost got ugly, but
she was so tired of all the clunkety-clunk
and that baby bouncing on her bladder
that she decided, for once, to let it slide.

And so……
The Lord God Almighty sent down
a host of heavenly angels with yard long trumpets
to herald the birth of his only begotten son,
though Mary felt that a nice bouquet
and a box of chocolates would have been fine.
And Joseph was also impressed by
the power and the majesty of The God of Ages,
although he would have passed it all up for a cot.

People came from all around
to visit the newborn Jesus, named for
Joseph’s favorite Big League shortstop.
And Joseph was happy to have a son
(or stepson as it were) and tickled
with the gifts of  gold and frankincense
(though he planned to return the myhrr
for something else when they
got back to Nazareth).

And Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was
happy to have pulled the whole things off.
And when she had finally gotten rid of
that annoying kid with the drum who
had really gotten her head pounding,
said what every good Jewish Mother knows,
“When you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.”

And so……
They finally high-tailed it out of Bethlehem,
(which was The Cleveland of Mesopotamia)
and returned again to their happy home.
Jesus became the first flower child,
practicing parlor tricks and slight of hand
in his spare time.
They say, Mary remained a Virgin and
Joseph went on building chachkas
for the temple lounge and continued
whacking his thumb, getting credit
for coining the phrase,
“Jesus H. Christmas, did that smart!”

-----Daniel Thomas Moran

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

Hey, take a breather and complete this puzzle! You work so hard. You really do d...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

It is unfortunate and far from fair when humanist celebrants are considered unof...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is a break down of how religious beliefs affect political choices.

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

We are all familiar with this case. It may have been played out a bit in the med...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

It is likely many of you will prefer this quote over the last. Enjoy!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

What is your opinion on the United States' level of cooperation with the ICC? T...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Ethical Dilemma: Advice for an Isolated Teenage Atheist Get TheHumanist.co...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

The AHA is mentioned in this article about Humanist of the Year Barney Frank.

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out the latest Humanist Hour Podcast with Muhammad Syed and Hiba Krisht on...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

The NY Daily News reports on our recent congressional briefing

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Carroll County: A Small Maryland Community Gets Big Attention for All the Wrong...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Matthew Bulger, the AHA's legislative associate, reports on our first congressio...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Washington DC, Atheists, Humanists and Agn...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out some photos from yesterday's congressional briefing on humanist celebr...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Our first congressional briefing was a success! The room was completely packed w...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Wonder Works Day Camp in Moscow, Idaho has begun! The first day was a huge succe...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

The briefing on military chaplaincy has begun.

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today, the American Humanist Association will be hosting our first Congressional...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is a video from Harvard's Making Caring Common Project. 5 Ways to Raise M...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why the Way We Live is More Important. Get TheHumanist.com by email once a week...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hey, have a laugh! http://hmn.st/1sFRZ33 Get TheHumanist.com by email once a we...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

No matter how right or how wrong, religion can not establish morality for the ma...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

I have come across this many times. While this topic may not be important to all...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jesus Cones! A new way to violate church-state separation, in Gwinnett County, G...

13 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well this is rad! AHA Board Member Herb Silverman is featured in this short (10...

14 days ago

American Humanist Association

It may seem silly, maybe even a blatant mockery, but if you really think about i...

14 days ago