Winter 2004

J. Clayton L. Jones


J. Clayton L. Jones This marks an author's first online publicationJ. Clayton L. Jones is a graduate of the M.F.A. program in poetry at Georgia State University. His work has been published (or is forthcoming) in Albatross, The G.S.U. Review, and in a book by Jason Carter, Power Lines (National Geographic Press, 2003). He is currently busy with his bluegrass band, The Groundhawgs.
Elegy for a Man of Visions    Click to hear in real audio

No one ever said that he was like most mystics,
Three of ten theologians agree visions are visions,
But he had so many, the first on his finger's
Print: the face of Jesus smudged in bicycle paint
And you can remember those hands, washed in His blood,
Enamel and tractor grease; implements of soul.

He built a heaven on Earth in exchange for his soul—
The Paradise Gardens made the other mystics
Jealous, but still they were cleansed deep down in his blood
Like Noah, or Moses, like a Man of Visions
Who lets loose cheetahs, light, and giraffes made of paint.
You remember his banjo, watching his fingers

Smooth as shape notes from his gospel-picking fingers
Claw-hammering the inner-most depths of his soul
Like a man who is possessed with scriptures and paint,
Carving out a place in time for other mystics:
Poet, painter, sculptor, scribe: Men of Visions
Baptized in Pennville, wet, bleeding, drenched in the blood.

Mosaics, castles of lawn mowers—and the blood—
The made thing, whole deal, in the tips of his fingers,
The ones that permeate existence of visions,
The ones that turn drill bits and saw blades into soul—
And it is as if no one had ever seen mystics
So engaged in the art of redemption, colored as paint

That moves like a kicked-over ant hill, scattered paint
Splashing from the holy bucket, dripping His blood,
Spilling like legends (unlike the other mystics)
From his spirit, the godhead, oneiric fingers,
Elvis's hips gyrating, becoming the soul
Of what's been lost, but recovered from the visions.

Coke bottles, peacocks, the natural visions—
Glossolalia shapen by wood, nails, the paint.
The Father, the Son, the purple-robe-covered soul
That beats, burns, filters—is clandestine in the blood
Like an age-old fruit clasped between praying fingers.
And now the theologians befriend the mystics;

And now his body and soul commune in the blood,
The paint as a union of the bigger visions
Where fingers are dipped into the hearts of mystics.




J. Clayton L. Jones: Poetry
Copyright © 2004 The Cortland Review Issue 25The Cortland Review