By Patrick T. Reardon

When I sit and when I stand.

When clots of fog cover the restless river.

When tick tocks.

When I die and when I am.

(When inert bullet left and

channeled his brain and spilled

onto rain-snow concrete and grass,

gray tissue and blood

and his empty body.)

When Johnny comes

marching, when Irish

eyes, when the swallows

and when a man loves.

When ignorant armies.

When lake and river merge.

When sky and water merge.

When flesh scabs.

When hot flesh unites.

When flesh rots dry.

(When his strobe anger lightninged a

whirlwind upon me, his fellow prisoner

in chains reaching back to the crib.)

When the red, red robin and

when doves. When the ship and

when I was a boy.

When I swallowed my unsung song.

When Jesus wept.

When Judas kissed.

When Peter heard.

(When he stuttered, when he learned

poison lessons he couldn’t vomit, when

his leg was broken, but not his leg.)

When I, when we were, when the

saints, when the moon hits your

eye, when you wish, when you’re

smiling, when you went away, when

you went away.

Patrick T. Reardon


This poem originally appeared in Rat’s Ass Review on 4.11.20.

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/.

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