“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull.”

– Jim Harrison


“I imagine one of the reasons people cling
to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense,
once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

– James A. Baldwin


The icons erected before the altar
are triune: Anger, Hate, and Prejudice.
And every keeper of every altar
know that they are righteous in their keeping.

Each morning and every evening
the devout enter their private sanctuary –
they enter, every one of them, on their knees –
and bow and pray and praise them;
for they are graven in each worshipper’s image.

At the end of their devotions, they offer
petitions in the name of each image –
Anger, Hate, and Prejudice –
and they wave a censor, wafting holy smoke.

Before the censor is lit, the penitent takes
a square of paper which they will light
on the flame of a candle of willful ignorance.
On that paper will be written their greatest fear.

* * *


Day 16 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason,” where we respond to prompts culled from the writings of poet, Jim Harrison.



32 thoughts on “Absolution

  1. Wow! This must be the Church of Stupidity/ Self-destruction…. you name it. I’m bemused observing these worship rituals….and how so true it is. This doctrine has so many followers… how sad. This is perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If it only pertained to religion, I wouldn’t have bothered writing it. This, I see, is almost everyone right now. It doesn’t require faith, or any specific ideology. The ones who say that others have this disease are as infected. We all are at some level. Me included.


      • I know you do, Björn! Your writing always shows you to be a deep, thoughtful person. Please don’t take my comments as personal criticisms. I have worked in a religious circle, but I see so much of religion’s failings in every human endeavor. On every side of the avenue, the aisle, the globe (or is it truly flat?). The common denominator, if I have my mathematics right, is the human. But then, I am helpless beyond basic math.


  2. Stanza one: Of course I am right to cling to my hate and anger and prejudice! I can provide documentation!
    Stanza two: They are gods we make in our own image – wow! Love that line!
    Stanza three: Big difference between using the word petition instead of prayer. Love holy smoke!
    Stanza four: That last line is huge! And it takes us back to the Baldwin quote. It stopped me in my tracks!
    Charley, this is one of your best ever! So well done, couched in the language of liturgy and skewering every one of us. Brilliant poem!


  3. That first stanza says so much, and then you take us to church and hold up a light to the truth — we operate from our anger and fear, and build houses of worship from them. Instead of seeking forgiveness, instead we only want to protect our weakness.


  4. We love our icons and are happy in our ignorance–fear anything and anyone who is different.
    I think the image is a church, but it looked like a sort of haunted house/Edward Gorey type of thing to me at first. I’m not sure what that says about me. 😉


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