5:30 Mass


There’s a hundred different hair-dos here

and three hundred uncoordinated outfits.

There’s pant suits and tracksuits, jeans, skirts, and dresses, 

sweatshirts, and jerseys of all kinds.

There’s a bouncing baby the next pew up—

her attention devoted to the reflection of stained glass windows on the tiled floor—

and a crying one behind.

A lone cell phone interrupts the service, and everyone rustles around, 

Checking their pockets and bags.


Pay attention

I can’t

We’re at church

I’m too distracted.


Breathe in 

a mixture of mothballs and mildew.

Breathe out

And conspicuously scan left hands, wonder who’s married, widowed, divorced.


He means well up there, speaking of Ugandan women and their water pails

But it’s hard to concentrate when his deep purple vestiges against the white walls strain my eyes

And his South African accent strains my ears.


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One Response to “5:30 Mass”

  1. BW Says:

    Interesting poem. I think the first stanza and the last work best; the authorial appearance in the middle seem a bit distracting, yoking the reader out of the rhythm of the poem. Thanks for sharing!

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