1. Lottery Stigmata
When he wasn’t in church, our town priest
sat in the church of whiskey,
smoking cigarettes and rattling ice like dice.
No one seemed to mind. Catholics liked
to drink and gamble at bingo.
The confessional smelled like a casino.
The story goes that when he won the lottery he disappeared.
A former priest running
an orphanage in a Tuscany villa?
Purchasing unlimited prostitutes in Vegas?
Living in a beach house with his boyfriend?
Drinking single malt scotch 24/7?
Townspeople sat in barstools and pews,
in classroom desks and dentist chairs,
in the multipurpose room and the Rotary hall,
2. Guantanamo of the Soul
God gives you
only what you can handle. That child
drowning in New Orleans? That child
rained down with fire in Baghdad? That child
shrunken with cancer in Panama City? That child
starving in Darfur? That child
raped in Yokohama? Who says
they can’t handle it?
3. Folk Mass
The priest’s hair grew longer, gracing
the edge of his Oreo collar. A man
with a beard and a woman with stringy hair
strummed their guitars at the altar. We sang
“Blowin’ in the Wind.” We sang
“Imagine.” Stained-glass light speckled the floor
and well-fed children imagined a room overflowing
with cream-filled chocolate cookies.
is the literary forefather of
the Marquis de Sade.
5. Mormon Boys
They always come in pairs.
At Santa Clara and Fourth they push
their bikes past the City Hall stairs
beneath that billboard plush
with pigeon droppings, years
of shit layered like butter cream
frosting. Their young ears
shine pinkly over the crisp seams
of their button-down shirts.
Their dark pants are vaguely
hip-hop baggy. Is that style
a thirst? An escape valve?
6. Job’s Résumé
7. The Gift
God gave my mother
Alzheimer’s. Her language
is falling away like
The other day I asked her:
“Mom, why did you leave the church?”
She said: “With Vatican II, the Pope opened
the window and I flew out.”
8. Responses to this Poem
“Any time you think of your dead father that’s
“Any time you think of a legless child that’s
“Any time you think of maggots devouring a carcass that’s
“Any time you forgive those who would murder you that’s
“We are all little
“Praise the lord and pass the atom
“When you feel the wind rustling the leaves that’s
“When you feel your skin crawling that’s
“We can never understand the ways of
“Your higher power is
is a man with a long flowing beard who had sex with a virgin.”
“You have legions of virgins waiting for you in heaven, courtesy of
loves the sinner but hates the sin."