In Hartford they’re rearranging
the big churches immigrants built.
No one attends church anymore.
The mouth is where a biblical God
and our dead live.
When strangers name my places
in the South End like Franklin Avenue, Frog Hollow,
Charter Oak Terrace, and Hillside Avenue,
I remember the church, St. Lawrence O’Toole,
where I kissed the dried skin of a dead Pope
in a glass locket held by a nun.
Which of all my actions have been sacred acts?
We want to cleanse intentions with simple rites.
We believe conceptions can be immaculate.
But when I listen, God brings
my words to ruin. I lose courage
in sentence, prayer and holy water.
Garrett Phelan is the author of the poetry collection Outlaw Odes (Antrim House Books) and micro-chapbooks Unfixed Marks and Standing where I am ((Origami Poem Project). His poems have appeared in a variety of publications including Potomac Review, Connecticut River Review, Word Riot, Ekphrastic Review, Off the Coast, decomP, Unbroken Journal, and Leaping Clear. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
The Ekphrastic Review
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