Robot factory

By Patrick T. Reardon


Windows broken, robot

factory silent, acres of

weed-written empty —

I flame by on Cain & Abel

Highway for Albuquerque,

wanting to get where I’m

going — a messiah boy 

from the hills, quiet and 

pleasant, who assures me

all will be well but comes

down with grim Covid. Ye

of little faith.


I wander the Old Town

at mid-week noon, low

humidity but hot enough

to saute my memories,

and, in the black blotch

my eyes see, I am

spelunking outside St.

Louis and come through

one more erratic birth

cave to find the still

moveless body of Jesus, 

but it is only Saturday, so

I let him sleep, and come

out to daylight just feet

from cliff edge where I 

rappel 100 feet to the

path below, look back up, 

step back away, to realize 

it is the old stone face of 

solemn John of the Cross.


After breathing into a

brown bag and wiping off

what little sweat there is

on my forehead, I enter 

the cool white-washed 

nave of San Felipe de Neri 

Church.  I sit.  Later, a 

cassocked guy steps lively

up the aisle marble, full

of animal vim, to my pew: 

“You’re snoring.”


“Bless you, too, Father, for

I have sinned.”  It’s only a

few hot blocks to the heavy

A/C of McDonald’s on Central

Avenue Northwest and a

free-refill Diet Coke, and a

table a few feet away from

a guy with sun-coffee-ed 

skin and some sort of handgun

in his under-arm holster and

an anger against Bulgarians

and a woman so pale she

must be from up North, and

I’m getting the impression

that she is ready to doze

off and he used to work at

the robot factory until the

owners gutted it and shipped

away the machining machines

— to Bulgaria, I guess —

leaving him in the same lurch

I’m in, needing salvation of

any flavor but only finding a

sick kid, mild sunstroke and

a vexed man of God.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem was originally published 9.5.20 by Panolplyzine.

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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