By Sal Valeriano

As my calendar grew closer and closer to this date,
I circled my room, I fretted, I paced,
“What will I do, to whom shall I go,
To prepare an act for this talent show?”
I thought and I thought, I concocted a plan
Of course! I used to be a song and dance man
With a wide leather Stetson and a curly hairdo,
In high school, I once sang the same songs as Hugh… Jackman
I swaggered and I swooned, I did the whole role,
Of a strapping young cowboy who lived in the Dust Bowl,
But then I thought…eh, showtunes aren’t that great,
And I haven’t done much singing of late,
Then popped in my brain as if on command
Aha! I’ll play my trumpet! Strike up the band!
But it had been years since I picked up my horn,
And, not willing to inspire your scorn,
Laid that idea down quite toothlessly,
And chose to entertain more Seussically than musically.
And so now, without adeu,
I present this poem to share with you.
Though at the first glance it may seem strange,
It made perfect sense for the God who arranged
The salvation of man through His own Son’s pain,
To use four steel wheels and the hood of a car,
To bring a wandering soul into his arms,
And though at first at this church I didn’t fit in,
Here I was greeted with kind smiles and big grins,
Folks said “Pull up a seat, grab a chair,
For we have more than this space to share:
During your week this is a welcome break,
To rest easy with all the friends you’ll make,
They’ll stand by your side, show you times that are good,
Though they might mistake you for a beast stomping through woods
Come share a meal, the food’s first rate,
Although some nights you might find crocodile on your plate,
We’ll show you the world- or at least a few states,
And teach you new ways to grow in your faith.
But the people, these people, the best part of all,
What you’d be excused for believing was a tale too tall-
In an age where the young have abandoned the Church,
On these folks, the angels have taken their perch
Here you’ll find chemists, writers, and those who use paints,
Engineers and nurses, all yearning to be saints,

Who cry Jesus, and Mama, with no shame in their hearts,
This, oh this, is truly the best part.
Now I’m almost done with my little ditty,
Though you may have thought it… can’t say that here… not witty
And since I will not be back here next fall,
Please be patient as I leave parting words for you all:
Whether I’m at Benning, or Bragg, or Bliss,
Knox, Lee, or Drum, you all I’ll miss
No matter where I go,
Or how far I roam,
I know part of Akron I can always call home.
And to be frank, and to be fair,
This means more to me than my words can share-
To have spent these years with saints in the making
Who make me believe the Kingdom is ready for the taking,
So hold your heads high, stand up, stand tall,
Thank you for everything, and God bless you all.