Frank X Walker

Come Sunday Its Derby

America Burns
He might not ever tell it to the papers
but I’m the first person Isaac ever see ride
I’m the first person he watch
get up ‘for dawn
fill a tub wit scaldin’ water, soap
an dirty clothes
lock everything ‘tween my knees
bend over an grab somethin by its ears
an race it up an down the washboard
til I baptize the dirt right out
everybody ride the hell outta something
I seen a good preacher ride a church
full a people with his words alone
have us all talkin back to him
while he trot us along an teach
straight from the word a God
once he work up a rhythm
some a us gets up on our feets an urge him on
like our “amens” is whips
an our “go ahead on preacher” is spurs
directly he turned a corner an left the page
his tongue started to gallop an he rode hard and fast
all the way til the end a the sermon
when the church finally say amen
we was all soaked through with sweat,
an more exhausted
than any horse an rider I ever seen



“Come Sunday Its Derby” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).