I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

28 June 2016

Watching a Religious Parade on TV

Robed in white, the Cardinal
is walking in slow processional,
holding a decorative shepherd's crook –
symbol of caring for his flock.

It is a younger priest I see,
staring through years of memory:
smooth-faced, all those decades back,
and suited in serviceable black.

The tilt of his head, his sober expression,
radiated concern, compassion.
The Church would set the matter right.
Later I read his useless report.

That was for an investigation
into conditions at a city prison.
We put in front of him every detail 
that made the place a renowned hell-hole.

An ex-teacher there, I was at that time
part of a group for prison reform.
His purpose, it afterwards seemed to me,
was to absolve the Church of responsibility.

When he says that it was long ago;
he can't recall, he doesn't know
about pedophile priests and child abuse,
or the cover-up of which he's accused –

I remember that young career priest,
schooling his face to appear earnest
as mothers and sisters of prisoners
confided horrors, fighting back tears.

He nodded, spoke softly, listened well,
took notes, asked questions, got it all.
There was also my long, written submission.
Months of waiting. Then his call to inaction.

His back is hunched, his face is red;
his gaze downcast, not heavenward.
There are floppy jowls and wrinkles now.
Facts might be smoothed away; not his brow.

It's very un-Christian of me, I know –
but then I am not a Christian, so –
I confess that seeing him bowed with age,
morose and shuffling, gladdens my rage.

(Been trying a long time to write this.)


  1. Horrible, when these "commissions" and investigations are held and come to absolutely nothing, while people suffer the horrors of the damned. Interesting the change from earnest gaze to lowered eyes.....guilt, likely.

  2. It is sad how oftentimes those who COULD help only do lip service to helping. Sad that his purpose was only to absolve the church of responsibility rather than to constructively HELP those who need help most. I am especially struck by the line: "Facts might be smoothed away; not his brow." A very stirring poem, Rosemary.

  3. felt like present on the scene..enjoyed the slant rhyme throughout, and wonderfully rhymed-end, seemed to be an expression of joy...

  4. I have never trusted religious leaders of any religion... so many stories of protectionist and career instead of doing what you should... I hope he carries a burden of guilt.

  5. Few times is the phrase "power corrupts" as true as when it comes to most religious leaders. I wonder if they forget their humanity, when they go from being just a man or a woman and are transformed into some symbol of holiness by those who believe in them. I completely understand your last line.

  6. His purpose, it afterwards seemed to me,
    was to absolve the Church of responsibility.

    That sums up so many Churchmen. Part-time Christians.

  7. It is dreadful when those who can make a difference choose to look the other way...and it is amazing how they manage to live with themselves so easily..

  8. Inconvenient, unutterable truth makes him and others as guilty as the perpetrators.

  9. Such a heartfelt write, Rosemary. It's difficult to trust religious leaders regardless of any religion. There is always this feeling nagging at the back of the mind, which may be instinct.

    Lots of love,

  10. What a composed poem - in all senses - the title and opening verse almost made me follow a different path.. as i read i too was glad he is hunched and bowed

  11. It is awful indeed ~ we must protect our children from such atrocities.

    Thank you for visiting my new blog.

  12. "Facts might be smoothed away; not his brow."

    And the entire progression of this poem, one that makes this priest ordinary when he could have been extraordinary, is marvelous. I adore your rage and patience.

  13. i don't like to talk about religion & its leaders but recently there's so much news of leaders being corrupt, intolerant of other faiths and the LGBT community. :(
    it must be hard writing about this. you feel betrayed, didn't you?

    1. Yes – although it was not my religion, all those years ago I was naive enough to believe that a man of the cloth would be honest and trustworthy.

  14. Great write Rosemary! I loved each word.

  15. I can really see this man, and how you describe him shows us what he's done... his aging, his brokenness.

  16. Well... that takes care of that! Well done! Something about Karma :)

  17. I feel the last stanza says it all, you must have put alot of thought in this well put together piece.

  18. So glad you were able to write it. Your frustration deserves your voice. I can certainly understand your last lines. It is outrageous how an institution can be so hypocritical. Good write Rosemary.

  19. I was raised in a strict Catholic household. Left the church because of the very things you write about. A church that so blatantly lies, doesn't deserve followers. Thanks for being so thoughtful and honest,


  20. This is a really compelling and intense piece - rendered with fervent indignation in the face of such systemic, abominable wrong doing. The rhyme scattered throughout is very effective (for me, it felt like an occasional pull or tug towards a system of words, only to veer from it - and not be confined within any parameters - as the truth unfolds). You have written an important piece, here. This was a horrendous betrayal deserving of public condemnation.