CHURCH RITUAL, Carl Palmer

church ritual
by Carl Palmer

warm unmoving august air
miserable mid-morning mass
penalty penance punishment
for drinking sneaked rectory wine
entire summer every Saturday
every Sunday sitting kneeling
same front left pew hands folded
holding plastic rosary pocket bible
wearing only owned suit blue wool
white cotton shirt starched scratchy
itchy sweaty too tight too hot
topped with one of dad’s clip-on ties
perpetual smell of faded dying flowers
overly perfumed blue haired women
acrid smoky yellow odorous incense
unfocused eyes daydreaming downward
alerted as I feel mother’s close inspection
hear her familiar forced tsk tsking sigh
unsnapping the red leatherette handbag
releasing familiar aroma mix cloves
menthol cigarettes smelling salts
Black Jack caffeine chewing gum
pink dust of cracked compact powder
rattle of keys coins cellophane
as she locates the least wadded tissue
wets a clean corner with nicotine spit
tries to wipe that newest brown freckle
from my blushing sunburned cheek

Carl “Papa” Palmer, retired Army, retired FAA, now just plain retired, lives in University Place, WA. He has seven chapbooks and a contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Seattle. Carl has been nominated for the Micro Award and Pushcart Prize. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

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