Two poems by Jason O’Toole

Untitled by Alex O’Toole

Jesus & Propane

120-gallon propane tank, mounted above sign
               for Independent Baptist Church.
Horizontal tanks like this are awkward, hard to position.
               They managed to get it up there.

They paint the tanks white
               as to not absorb sunlight,
heat up and explode at your barbecue
               or church ice cream social.

This church believes that the Bible,
               the King James Bible, is the final authority,
having in 1611, dropped from purest white fluffy clouds,
               in English.

This church likes the “old hymns and God honoring music.”
               Each time we drive past on Highway 36,
on the way to the Rock eagle 4-H camp,
               Alex adds a new verse to our all-time hymn,

               “Jesus & Propane.”

Our call from backseat, and response from driver
               gets sillier and sillier –
Alex, star soloist of his middle school chorus,
               will be kicked out, when he comes out, to his mom’s church.

He sings the legend of a man from outer space who
               created something good,
something really, really good,
               yes, Jesus made propane!

Nobody demands propane tanks change their size, shape
               or orientation.
Some are squat and short to squeeze under your grill,
               others hidden underground.

Diversity serves a purpose in machines as in nature.
               God however, I’ve heard the faithful say,
accepts you as you are, but won’t leave you alone after He (not She)
               finds you, or you find Him (not Her).

So, it is written,
               on a refrigerator magnet.


Do not think of here
And there.
Think of here to there,
and back again.

Time is a circle, says Nietzsche,
Be an optimist, a realist, but never a nihilist.
There is no demarcation
where light ends and darkness begins.

Eternally is here, croons Jeffrey Lee,
dead, yet rambling.
As above, so below –
an effervescent spectrum.

Here, there, and everywhere
sing the alchemical Beatles,
two now dead,
yet everywhere.
omnipresent, immortal –
bullets and cancer, notwithstanding.

Am I with you, my son, in eternity,
though linear time is all I see?
There are more colors in the rainbow
than stars in the sky.


Jason O’Toole is a member of the North Andover, MA Poet Laureate
Committee, and an original voice in the early NYC hardcore punk scene. He published two volumes of poetry, a chapbook, and has been featured in numerous magazines such as Loud Coffee Press, Gargoyle Magazine, Boog City, and anthologies including the 2020 Rhysling Anthology and a new book of pandemic poems, Poets with Masks On (also featuring Richard Blanco, Molly Peacock, Ellen Bass, and edited by Melanie Simms). He holds a Master of Business Administration in Leadership from St. Joseph’s College of Maine, and a BA in Social Theory from The New School, and works in healthcare risk management.