By Patrick T. Reardon

Cost me voice box.

Cost me black holes, 

greedy tunnels, another atom existence.

Cost acne and lumps, lost cost.

Cluster jazz.


Cost inhale, exhale.

An earthly dirtied dollar, sliced grass blade, 

squirrel carcass flat as a poem for reading

on the asphalt street in front of the two-flat

at 435 N. Thomas of Canterbury Boulevard, 

the gospel of need.


Cost my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright.


Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

Cost lost.

Effective. Of living. Of breathing.

Cost of $58.50.

Of doing business. 


Cost me guilt.

Eye shadow. Bag pipes.


Arianism, Manichaeism, Free Spirit.

Cleveland, Detroit, Albuquerque.

Lindell Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, Dixie Highway.



Peanuts Park.


Let us pray, America.


Purple vestment, leather chemise, 

pink Saturdays, dark underclubs, 

lavender tune, park path at dusk,

night pier playground, raven search, 

circle dance, circuit party, 

sharp-slice morning, tip-toe border enticement.


     “I rose to open for my lover,”

     said the Song of Songs.


Knowledge of evil and good. 

Knowledge of what it takes. 

Take a hit. One for the team. 


Thanks be to God.


Cost me missing.

Cost steps. Tactics. Price in coin.

Cost me in action.

Floundered hopes.


Seed library shelves with empty-page books.

Communion of saints, hidden in the storage locker,



Cost gracious.  Connection.  Painstaking.


All good things, all slimy things, 

every thing of dust and atom.

Green and violent, orange and needy.


Glossolalia. Magdalene. Charismatic.  Smack dab.

It’s a good day for.


St. Annie Oakley, shoot straight.

St. Albert Einstein, count your blessings.

St. Dante, go to hell.


Hunt and peck.

Be at pains.

Stop ocean tides. Unfall rain.


Pray Constitution. 

Let us pray, soil and sun.


Sorrow the abyss.  The bleak blank white to come.

Bottom of the well, blue circle above.


Cost Howl and The Waste Land and The Lost Tribes.

The book of Job, Lear. Howl at the whirlwind. 

Forty desert days. 

Stone to bread. 


Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

Lying in a Hammock 

at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.

Creeley said: “drive, he sd”

Dylan said: “Let us hope they’ve found mercy.”

Darkness on the face of the deep.


Silence amid cicada hum at 118 Berlin Wall Avenue


Honorable and glorious, a cost.

Wonderful works, full of compassion.


     “If thou wert my fool, nuncle, 

     I’d have thee beaten,” 

     said the Fool.


Route follow. Track spoor. Turn.


Unsupervised medical students 

sit in corners, confessor-like, listening 

to sins of gout, nephritis and migraine, 

spit-balling penances of 3 enemas 

and 3 blood-lettings, while sniffing 

powders of turpentine, rhinoceros 

horn, coral, balsam and coconut, cost.


Let us hope.


Cost me sun-slash car-top rip,

stick tree before wall-brick office.

Side of face, cupped, cost.


Hudson Three-Two-Seven-Hundred.

Yes, sir, Senator! Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.

Calling Phillip Morris.


Cost gray ushers, lectors, sacristans, 

altos and basses — charcoal burning, 

jewels of incense sprinkled, pungent as sex, 

rich as sweat. 


Covenant, a cost.  Commandments. 

Stone reporter’s notebook. 


Ratio, proportion, calculation.

Carry the five.

Leave it alone.

Garden of delights.


The mansion at 7943 S. Rock of Gibraltar Street, 

charred havoc, frozen chaos.

An everyday Flood, fire each time.


Like a rolling stone. Salt of the earth.

Do you remember?

Mother. Carry that weight. Rosalita.


Cost pristine alleys of tax-dodgers, strutters, 

unvoiced deep, living gall, chalice.


Mad at the world.  Ugly vintage.

Boom joy boom.

Saved by the grace.

An aroma we can’t hold, cost. 


Photo by Jonathan Knepper on Unsplash

Oh, pray goodness and kindness.


Cost the blue-collar guy 

with muscled arms and calloused hands

in his dad’s workshop.

Cost the secret learner. Cost thought. 


When the wild came in deep-dark electric 

along my bones, across the inside of my skull.


Queen of Sheba, boulder goddess.

Mute eunuch in blue.


Elements of wine and bread, fish and okra.

Swallow the raven, feathers and all.

A world of trouble.

A place of plows, millet and iron tools.


Cost the Semite and the Anti-Semite, 

the bitter bile and the baby smooth, 

forgotten and recalled, 

doubt and faith, the tight muscles of strain.

Sinew ripped from bone. Snapped. Torn 

like the Temple veil. 


Break the legs of the two thieves. All in a day’s work.

Break my legs.

Photo by Tomoe Steineck on Unsplash


     “Oh! thou clear spirit

     of clear fire,” said Ahab.


Cost me bloody goat hide, gory sheep skin.

Cost me clothed in the Universe.

Cost me the gangway 

at 135 N. Light of the Nations Avenue.


Unanger. Pray. 


Found poem.  Found tribes. 

Cost me guilt.


Angry Nebuchadnezzar stoked the furnace 

to seven times hotter, told the most mighty 

men to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego 

and cast them into the holocaust, and, inside, 

they walked about unharmed with a fourth.  

They had no hurt.


Thanks be to God.


St. Enos Slaughter, take an extra base.

St. Elizabeth I, close your legs,

St. Abraham Lincoln, set yourself free.


The flowering branch, bleed of blood.

The ladder wobbles.

Window glass blinding.

Fabric of cement surface, minute seeds of stone, 

imprinted onto the hand palm slammed down in the fall.

Found and lost in questions.

Fashioned as I was fashioned, as I fashion.


Like Job, I bow my head to the power and unknowing.


Pray lovingkindness.


Cost empty pews, 

ranks of silent acolytes, in stained-glass sunlight.

Dog took cake from coals.


Drab quarter for the basket fallen to the wood, 

sounding out salvation,

a hat-clip mechanism, unused in half a century, cost. 


Fear the Lord.


Cost wisdom.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem originally appeared in Cathexis Northwest Press, January-February, 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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