Archive for ‘Religious’

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Grandmother’s Angels by Jo Carroll

My grandmother spoke about angels;
they stood at the foot of my bed.
They counted the sins of the daylight;
they counted the sins in my head.

They glared as I crept beneath bedclothes,
sought solace from teddies and dolls.
But they knew of the time when I ate all the sweets;
the time when I drew on the walls.

The time when I farted, blamed Great Uncle Ted,
who seemed unconcerned by the pong.
The time when I failed at my spellings;
the time my additions were wrong.

The time I was late down to breakfast;
when I left my bike out in the frost.
The time when I hid the crisp letters from school
that warned I was weaker than most.

Oh yes, they saw it all, these angels of mine,
that stood at the foot of my bed.
Did they count the sins of my grandmother?
They disappeared once she was dead.


Date: 2010

By: Jo Carroll (19??- )

Monday, 26 December 2022

Boxing Day at Gerroa by Andrew Hamilton

Smoke today was in the air,
scratching at the eyes and nose.
The declining sun was tomato red,
burning from a hundred fires,
grieving for a land turned black.


Date: 2020

By: Andrew Hamilton (1938- )

Sunday, 25 December 2022

The First Christmas by Marian Swinger

It never snows at Christmas in that dry and dusty land.
Instead of freezing blizzards, there are palms and drifting sands,
and years ago a stable and a most unusual star
and three wise men who followed it, by camel, not by car,
while, sleepy on the quiet hills, a shepherd gave a cry.
He’d seen a crowd of angels in the silent starlit sky.
In the stable, ox and ass stood very still and calm
and gazed upon the baby, safe and snug in Mary’s arms.
And Joseph, lost in shadows, face lit by an oil lamp’s glow
stood wondering, that first Christmas Day, two thousand years ago.


Date: 2020

By: Marian Swinger (19??- )

Saturday, 24 December 2022

The Christmas Letter by John N. Morris

Wherever you are when you receive this letter
I write to say we are still ourselves
In the same place
And hope you are the same.

The dead have died as you know
And will never get better,
And the children are boys and girls
Of their several ages and names.

So in closing I send you our love
And hope to hear from you soon.
There is never a time
Like the present. It lasts forever
Wherever you are. As ever I remain.

From: Morris, John N, “The Christmas Letter” in Poetry, February 1977, Volume 129, Issue 5, p. 269.

Date: 1977

By: John N. Morris (1931-1997)

Friday, 23 December 2022

Losing Faith by Mary McLaughlin Slechta

In second grade I had the braids,
the name and faith
to play the mother of Christ
Instead they gave the part to white Patty
and meant to appease me
with “conductor of the ho-ho-ho choir”

I scraped and bowed the verses
in a party dress that rose and fell
with applause and laughter
Even my mother and sister saw the joke
inside a saggy pair of bloomers

Who among them understood
how the role of “Mary”
suited me better
How it still does
thirty years later
with only a name
to recommend me


Date: 20??

By: Mary McLaughlin Slechta (19??- )

Saturday, 10 December 2022

Hanukkah Dinosaur by Sarah Etlinger

Judaism is trending again, my friend Jared tells me,
so I wonder if I should buy Dinokkah,
the inflatable Hanukkah Dinosaur,
who is bright green with a blue T-shirt, cartoon
menorah blazing on the front, and a big blue
dreidel lying on its side. He wears a white yarmulke,
which you can only see from the back.
Everything is lit from the bottom.

Imagine, I respond, you too
can have a Hanukkah dinosaur in your front window or yard.

I want him the way adults want things
to remind themselves they were once children.
I do not buy him.

Lately people are asking me
if I’ve noticed how anti-Semitism is getting worse
or if I think people aren’t afraid of anything anymore.

Bob asks me quietly, and is very concerned.
Last week I told him do not read any of the tweets
or the headline in the NYT calling a blatant attack on Jews
purported anti semitism
—instead of what it actually was,
actual anti-semitism. Do not, I said, think harder about
the Jewish Space Lasers or the LA bridge protesters
or Adidas.

Another friend texts me about Kanye West
and says he’s a fucking asshole looking for more power,
and I say Yeah, but we took down our mezuzah this week
for the first time ever.
She is silent for several minutes
before she tells me about the football game. She doesn’t know
what to do or say about any of this.
They all want something different
for me, and when someone asks what they can do,

I want to tell them to buy this dinosaur,
so I can rig him up on my small unruly yard
for everyone to see as they pass by, on their way to elsewhere,
as they whiz past warm glowing plastic faces
of the tiny wan Jesus and Mary and Joseph, dingy lambs
weary at the end of the shepherd’s crook, the molded
shepherd’s face hidden by his modest plastic cloak—

the dinosaur bright and garishly green, proud and smiling
instead of somber—a wholly joyful amalgam:

two ancient entities older than all this grass and pavement
and even this darkening sky, its hollow core
full of air and light quietly humming.


Date: 2022

By: Sarah Etlinger (19??- )

Sunday, 27 November 2022

The Angel Gabriel Talks Annunciation to Mary by Margaret Benbow

Before he’s said a word,
even as he bends the knee and rears his
wings in golden branches that wow them every time
(the more the little peasant is impressed, the faster this will be)
his eye is mournfully absorbed in what he sees.
She’s still a child, he can smell
honey and dairy on her, and just now she secretly
put out a finger in wonder to touch a feather.

Gabriel lugs the huge gold nugget words Messiah baby
into the conversation early, dazzles those big eyes:
but he saves the awkward
Crucifixion, with its spiky thorns,
for later, or never. Also, wrong time to mention
five wounds, or drop those bricks
lash, wood, nail, storm, tomb.

Leave it to life to tell her. After all, he’s not lying:
she will bear the main earthman of all time.
She’ll lose him, but
time chars all our beloveds.
Gabriel sighs just once.
Then like the whip-length of snake who first sold Eve the apple
he fixes Mary with a gaze
bright and old as quartz in granite:

Have I got a sweet deal for you.


Date: 2018

By: Margaret Benbow (19??- )

Friday, 25 November 2022

Every Day Thanksgiving Day by Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford

Sweet it is to see the sun
Shining on Thanksgiving Day,
Sweet it is to see the snow
Fall as if it came to stay;
Sweet is everything that comes.
For all makes cheer, Thanksgiving Day.

Fine is the pantry’s goodly store.
And fine the heaping dish and tray;
Fine the church-bells ringing; fine
All the dinners’ great array.
Things we’d hardly dare to touch.
Were it not Thanksgiving Day.

Dear the people coming home,
Dear glad faces long away.
Dear the merry cries, and dear
All the glad and happy play.
Dear the thanks, too, that we give
For all of this Thanksgiving Day.

But sweeter, finer, dearer far
It well might be if on our way.
With love for all, with thanks to Heaven,
We did not wait for time’s delay.
But, with remembered blessings then
Made every day Thanksgiving Day.

From: Committee of the Carnegie Library School Association, Thanksgiving in Poetry, 1923, The H. Wilson Company: New York, p. 27.

Date: 1881

By: Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford (1835-1921)

Thursday, 1 September 2022

The New Decalogue by Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.
Adore no images save those
The coinage of thy country shows.

Take not the Name in vain. Direct
Thy swearing unto some effect.

Thy hand from Sunday work be held –
Work not at all unless compelled.

Honor thy parents, and perchance
Their wills thy fortunes may advance.

Kill not—death liberates thy foe
From persecution’s constant woe.

Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife. Of course
There’s no objection to divorce.

To steal were folly, for ’tis plain
In cheating there is greater pain.

Bear not false witness. Shake your head
And say that you have “heard it said.”

Who stays to covet ne’er will catch
An opportunity to snatch.


Date: 1911

By: Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-?1914)

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Weary Rings by César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza

There are desires to return, to love, to not disappear,
and there are desires to die, fought by two
opposing waters that have never isthmused.

There are desires for a great kiss that would shroud Life,
one that ends in the Africa of a fiery agony,
a suicide!

There are desires to. . .have no desires, Lord;
I point my deicidal finger at you:
there are desires to not have had a heart.

Spring returns, returns and will depart. And God,
bent in time, repeats himself, and passes, passes
with the spinal column of the Universe on his back.

When my temples beat their lugubrious drum,
when the dream engraved on a dagger aches me,
there are desires to be left standing in this verse!


Date: 1918 (original in Spanish); 2007 (translation in English)

By: César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza (1892-1938)

Translated by: Clayton Eshleman (1935-2021)