The Beautiful Rituals


Arms flash tiny bits of skin under coats

or long suit jacket sleeves – skin white, skin dark

rhythmic in the regularity of forward swinging momentum.

Humans walk into a building, arched entrance

regimented angularity from Art Deco applique

the lobby smells like arthritis cream and Irish Spring.

Chatter echoes around the communal space

mother speaks to child.

Older man tells younger one about something


little girls in long dresses hold hands, eyes locked

on the path to the basement Saturday School,

well lit with Noah’s Ark spilling an impossible

number of animals out of its hold, nailed to the wall.

Ruffling feathers, these bird people flock into the

open maw of the church – the Holy space within a

man-poured concrete shell.

Gentle sloping floors illuminated with tall

pale-cream stained glass windows.

Above the altar piecemeal reds, greens, amethyst,

and blues like ultramarine summer skies

make up the form of the Savior.

He wrings his hands by a large rock while

out of the turbulent sky above there breaks

a lone shaft of sunlight to stream down upon his face.

There, in the garden of doubt he awaits his fate.

I didn’t really understand this whole rigmarole.

“He’s three parts” according to the pastor.

Somehow God and Spirit and Man. Three separate

components yet each distinct.

(Which one watches me jack off I wondered)

I remember the beautiful rituals, Communion Saturday

we would eat his flesh and drink his blood, chewing

tasty Wheat Thins and slugging back tart

Welches Grape Juice. Our favorite brands made

holy and incorruptible.

I was indifferent to the repeated tales of abject


Jesus being nailed to the cross seemed pretty insignificant

when he would just walkout of his tomb a few days

later, none the worse for wear.

He could sit and chat with the guys, give Mary Magdalene

a little cuddle, and transmute water to wine

until he floated up into Heaven for an indeterminate


I remember once that I cracked my knuckles during the

morning prayer. The space silent except for the ringing

CRUNCH of my finger joints. When I got home that day my

grandfather whipped me till I couldn’t sit down.

Grandma told me that night to say my prayers and ask

Jesus to forgive me.

He was mortally offended.

I closed my eyes and with deepest devotion

pretended to with all of my heart.


I am a devout non-believer. The path that takes you there sometimes starts when an individual begins to branch out from their familial religion and investigates things on their own. I don’t think that I ever truly believed any of it at all. Ever.

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