Brother Red Gold

By Patrick T. Reardon


Brother Red Gold is down the line of

succession and covers the flaccid County

Building beat for the Deuteronomy Sun,

getting by, avoiding line of sight,

without complaint.


The scars on his arms are a chronology,

chapter and verse, translated shouts, and,

at night, close-eyed, he witnesses with a

thousand-mile stare the monkey people

clambering up the walls and open-air

floors of the unfinishable Thessalonians

bank tower, gibbering monkey talk amid

the hard ivy and white campions and the

lipstick vines, the confederate vines and

the string of hearts, and the balloon vines,

kangaroo vines and cathedral bells. 


Mornings, he forgets all, newborn.


Unknown to him, the monkey people take

up daylight residence along the fragile

inside of his skull, right under the tattoo

signboard of his crib lessons in guilt. 


From this vantage, they unsettle his days in

unseen ways along the skin of his face and

the sinews of his arms. 


He longs to wash in whiter than snow.


He seeks atonement in writing 50 lines of

“I am heartily.”  He seeks absolution in

flat bleak facelessness.  He seeks a lancing

expiation as if at the block or in battle, the

head lifted in triumph, finished.


On this Shrove Tuesday night, Brother Red

Gold looks out the wall window of his

high-rise cell at the green highway sign to

Jericho, and the one to Canaan, and the

one to Caesarea Philippi.  He vows to make

a pilgrimage down some map line.  He vows

to join a cloister to chant Latin down the

rest of his days.


Instead, he heads to the dryer-warm basement

to change his laundry and search absolution.

Hold that tiger.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem originally appeared at The Write Launch on 10.3.2023.

Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is

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