Toast with choice wine the elect.


Toast the vampires, bad boys, hyenas,

stone-cold demons and assholes

strolling the halls of heaven,

side by saintly side with hermits and virgins,

stumbled apostles, unwed social justice mothers,


preacher dragged to the fire,

girl soldier dragged to the fire,

mothers, fathers, babies unbaptized,

founders of monastic communities,

fallen archbishops, Juan Diego,

the poor and unsightly, the troubled rich

— which is to say, every one of wealth —

robbers who love their father,

lost tribes of angels,

archdeacons who don’t get along with each other,

holy men wrestling with Satan,

the innocent old, Job, the inside traders,

the cashing-in and the cashiered,

holy men wrestling with an angel

or a Deity maybe,

break the rib, dislocate the hip.


Collect the elect

— the hell-raisers and hell-preachers,

the abject, reject, object,

subject to pride,

subject to anxiousness, empty echoed terror.


Toast with Diet Coke the McDonald’s regulars,

the cathedral regulars,

the Mozarts, the Manets, bankrupt Vermeer,

the pulsing maters, the buttermilk cups,

open arms, open legs,

the bell ringers and the rung bells,

the sleek-bodied, the weighted,

the glide and slide and blithe,

the large and loud and meek.


Round up the elect for the trains.


Lift the incense.

Light the tall candles,

the Easter candle before the tabernacle.


The mystery of faith.


Lift the morning sun through the rose window

and the saints with green halos

and the virgin with blue halo

and the baby with the halo of red.


Gather in the plaza the elect

for goats-and-sheep time,

each then by a different path to the same pasture.


Hymn the bricks and marble,

the dark basement, the ceiling, cracks,

the space like another cosmos.

Whither shall I go?


Count sins.  Record errors and malignancies.

Keep track humanity.


Serve the chalice of soup-kitchen soup.

Break day-old bread, a leg unwell knit.

Mark each word.


Dog in the sanctuary.

Armor at the church door.

Turnips growing in rows under the pews.

Much barking at the altar.


Wake up, baby!

Open your eyes to the morning snow,

sunlight on the white city, a joyful demand,

on the streets and sidewalks,

factories and tattoo shops,

police cars and hearses.


Climb the column.

Sit on top and pray alone

for a novena of novenas,

eighty times eight.


The aroused, the aloud, the bowed

and unbowed, the cowed, the aground,

the bound and unbound.


Soon and very soon.


Let the barrio close you in awkward embrace

— smell the rot, touch the frail wood,

feel the play of texture in the ugly wood,

listen to the wind across the wood face.


Let us as elect wash the feet.

Let us chop up pews for firewood.

Let us recalibrate the statues

and the paintings and the hymnals.


Let us go out each morning as elect,

each noon, at night.

Let us go out and among

and in and with.


Toast with strong coffee

out and among and in and with,

sacred prepositions.


Holy grammar. Holy word.

Holy embrace, elect.


Patrick T. Reardon

Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of six poetry collections, including Salt of the Earth: Doubts and Faith and Puddin’: The Autobiography of a Baby, A Memoir in Prose Poems. His poetry has been featured in numerous journals such as America, Rhino, After Hours, Heart of Flesh, Autumn Sky, Silver Birch, Burningword Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Poetry East, The Galway Review, and Under a Warm Green Linden. In addition to his poetry, he has also written a history book titled The Loop: The ‘L’ Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago, which was published in 2020 by Southern Illinois University Press.

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