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Antler's epic poem Factory was published in 1980 as #38 in the City Lights Pocket Poet Series, it was heralded by Allen Ginsberg as "the most enlightening and magnanimous American poem I've seen of '60s and '70s decades." Of Antler's book Last Words, published by Ballantine in 1986, Ginsberg said: "More fineness than I thought probable to see again in my lifetime from younger solitary unknown self-inspirer US poet." Antler: The Selected Poems was published in 2000. His latest book is Touch Each Other (2013). He won the 1987 Witter Bynner Prize awarded annually "to an outstanding younger poet" by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the 1985 Walt Whitman Award, given annually to an author "whose contribution best reveals the continuing presence of Walt Whitman in American poetry." Antler's poems have appeared in numerous periodicals, including New Directions Journal, Whole Earth Review, Utne Reader, Exquisite Corpse, Kenyon Review, New York Quarterly, Wilderness and The Sun. His poems have also appeared in over 150 anthologies, including Erotic by Nature, Son of the Male Muse, Earth Prayers, The Journey Home: The Literature of Wisconsin through Four Centuries, and American Poets Say Goodbye to the 20th Century. He has performed his poetry across America and beyond. He was chosen to be Milwaukee's second Poet Laureate for 2002-2003. More Antler info.

Atheist Blows Up Baby Jesus



Antler
Walking through sleepy Christmas-Eve Milwaukee,
go by house where no one's home but
Outdoor life-size inflatable Nativity Scene is illuminated,
Inflated Mary & Joseph, inflated Wise Men and inflated gifts,
inflated shepherds, farm animals and stable,
inflated angels with inflated wings and halos,
inflated Star of Bethlehem, inflated manger
but baby Jesus is deflated!
So I spoke to the deflated baby Jesus
I might be an atheist agnostic nature worshipper not a Christian
yet I would kneel and blow up and re-inflate you
and patch the leak or re-plug the air spigot
for doesn't baby Jesus say as much about love
without speaking
than all the words Christ said?
Kneeling down discovering spigot open
I gently blow air inside Jesus—
cold winter Wisconsin fresh air
inhaled into my lungs and exhaled into Jesus—
Hoping no neighbor calls police or shoots me!
I'm not a terrorist who explodes Nativity Scenes
but an atheist who blows up deflated Christ-child.
Now you look like a baby again, Jesus—
your eyes of wonder and wisdom gaze up at me.
Here, let me tuck you in, little one.
It's okay your mother and father and the rest
don't acknowledge me or thank me.
Even you remain silent looking up at me.
I understand, little one.
We're all looking down at you
with love.


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