Let me tell you

By Patrick T. Reardon


Plug Nickel and Red Cent

met on museum steps and, inside,

mysticked with blue innocent Della Robbia,

rhythmed the light-shine white

of beyond, above, bright,

orisoned warm-milk fired clay, like flesh,

god-child in supple mother embrace.

Sigh of centuries.


Out straight west, they drove

their wood-paneled station wagon,

out past the 30-hundreds, the 40-hundreds,

nearly to the 52-hundreds

on the table-top Chicago grid,

out to Leamington to meet the gray-pants boy,

sitting on front porch steps, in full view — a

white-red-striped t-shirt buzz-cut good-boy,

out from inside, away, at large,

watching ant-gang heft cornbread crumbles

except this one alone, down sidewalk square

to an insect Promised Land.


He looked up at the two men,

vaguely priestly, vaguely outlawed,

said: “I’m looking to flee captivity

for the sin I don’t recall committing.”


“We’re guilty, too,” they said, and

the three walked to afternoon church,

for Stations of the Cross,

flaming altar candles, up, reaching always up,

echoes, shuffling, Latin abracadabras,

plainsong up, incense up from censor,

from burning coal, straining up,

cloud of unknowing, cloud of Mount Sinai,

cloud of breathing and not breathing.


After Amen, the three split up

and went home by a different path.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem was originally published by Burningword Literary Journal on 10.5.21. 

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 https://patricktreardon.com/.

Leave A Comment