Raiders of the Eskaton Philip St. Clair In the world but waiting to opt out, these wide-eyed men baptized into hyperawareness during tenth grade by total immersion into John the Revelator and Nostradamus and the end times foretold by the Prophets of Zion, whose reveries featured the Illuminati and the Knights Templar, Roswell and Rosslyn, Atlantis and the Grassy Knoll and Tower Number Seven, whose fathers went into the navy just after they were born and never came back, whose mothers should have sent them off to the grandparents in pastoral Arkansas but skidded off into Valium and Black Velvet and a succession of controlling boyfriends, who went to junior college on a grant and bailed out just before midterms and hitchhiked to Gainesville or Tampa or Fort Myers in search of college-town tolerance, who begged unconditional love from a fifteen-year-old runaway under the palm trees of midtown Daytona Beach, who joined the army but got a general discharge during basic for general indifference and general inattention at drill, who moved to the end of Zero Street in a city that repented not, who felt unworthy of the gift of grace and prayed nightly for the thumb of justice, who begged change at the Dollar Tree and the Winn-Dixie, who gleaned aluminum from gutters and parking lots, whose apotheosis finally came by eating a tab of Snoopy-Come-Home in front of a full-length mirror and watching their skulls burst into flame, who then endured mandated rehabs and halfway houses, who now live in charity wards run by Jesuits and Presbyterians, who sometimes rake leaves and empty trash and mop out the kitchen but most of the time lie on narrow cots, immobilized by the fear that when the Rapture comes, they will be taken up only halfway: forever suspended in the middle of the clouds as the checkerboard earth and the vast blank oceans revolve beneath, as cryptic patterns left by intercontinental jets slowly fade away against the blue-black dome above. Philip St. Clair is the author of four books of poetry: Acid Creek (Bottom Dog, 1997), Little-Dog-Of-Iron (Ahsahta, 1985), At the Tent of Heaven (Ahsahta, 1984), and In the Thirty-Nine Steps (Shelley’s, 1980). His two chapbooks are Divided House (Finishing Line, 2005) and number 176 in Pudding Press’s Greatest Hits series (2003). Among his awards are grants and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Bullis Prize from Poetry Northwest. His poems have been published in over two hundred journals and magazines, including the Gettysburg Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, Harper’s, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Poetry Review (London), Shenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review. His work has appeared in anthologies from the University of Akron Press, Bottom Dog Press, and Southern Illinois University Press, and in 2009, he was included in the University Press of Kentucky’s What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. “Raiders of the Eskaton” appears in our Autumn 2013 issue.