In those days

Patrick T. Reardon


In those days, the self-afflicted were loud

like a rat caught in the dark pipe.


In those days, the dead buried the dead.


In those days, the seamless garment

was torn from top to bottom

like the Temple veil,

like the broken knees of the thieves.

In those masked days.

In those shrill days.


I threw my cloak over innocent shoulders.

I walked along streets gargoyled by fear.

I saw anger eaten with relish and

vomited with shouts of joy.


Lord, have mercy.


In those days, memory was a gap.

Rapine pioneers claimed continents.

Certainty was an abyss.

I was body and bread.


Lamb of God.


In those purple days.

In days lost to haze.

In days lost to true north.


In those days, the wasteland was the field to seed,

the warped land, a soil of nurturance,

along the edges, the center.

In those days, the faithful denied doubts,

and the sick denied their sickness.


In those days, the lady of peace hid in a cave.

I was served a stew of white bones.

I walked the wide-back highway from Sodom,

careful not to look back,

as swift black Hummers thundered past

on their way to the dead sea.


In those days, the newborn dawn was ignored

in the air-conditioned caves

with a cyclops rock lodged to block entrance.

A type of vulture stood high in the halls of legislators.

As the judges robed, an arrow.


Holy, holy, holy.


In those days, I walked the path of birds.

I was one with the communion of sparrows,

drab and without significance.


In those days, alarms were embraced.

No feet were washed.

Dust settled on the leaves

like a sledgehammer.


In those days, no one heard the sacred hoboes.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem originally appeared at Pandemonium on 5.28.24.


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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