After the Money Changers by John C. Mannone

After the Money Changers

Jesus tosses, turns
on his rolled-out mat,
feels Jeremiah’s dream
with the baskets of figs
in front of the temple,
the good ones and the bad.

Morning spills
over the red clay sill
of the house in Bethany
where he spent the night
with close friends. He rubs
his eyes blanched
with sunlight, hurries
out the door and down
the mountainside
stopping at Bethphage.

Gnarled branches
of a barren fig tree
frame the distant temple
cast in eerie light. He curses
it, the fig tree, too.

Even the fig wasp
goes hungry.

Bethany also means house of figs
Bethphage also means house of unripened figs

John C. Mannone has poems in North Dakota Quarterly, Foreign Literary Journal, Le Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest in poetry (2020), the Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize (2020), and the Joy Margrave Award (2015, 2017) for creative nonfiction. He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, Liquid Imagination, as well as being a contributing editor for poetry in the American Diversity Report. A retired physics professor, John lives between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Author-Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: The background image (taken by the Brooklyn Museum) is of the temple in Jerusalem (opaque watercolor over graphite on gray woven paper by James Tissot (French, 1836-1902) called Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod (Réconstitution de Jérusalem et du temple d’Hérode), 1886-1894). In the foreground, a withered (fig) tree (from needpix), is a symbolic representation of what is really being cursed. Geographic details are found in the Bible Atlas.