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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

The Nicer Things

By: Raymond Hammond

for Andy Dale

i don’t want to lose religion

the bells, whistles, swinging smoking

censers, the full organ music,

the rising voices of a choir,

the pomp, the circumstance, the smell

of a new bible, india paper

and leather, the image of light

beaming through, in early morning,

the ornately stained glass windows,

the clang of the communion trays

as they are being handed out

to deacons to hand out to us

i even want to keep the stale

bread and the blood that is grape juice

i want to keep the cathedrals,

the relics, the pieta, the sistine

chapel, rosaries, yamakas,

the chiesa di san michele

in savoca because it’s old

and the frescoes are beautiful,

the long green lawns, the steepled spires

rising above every town’s

buildings and trees drawing eyes

ever heavenward, i want to keep

all those things that were built on backs

of peasant believers their faith

bled like turnips to build gilded, golden

temples out of comfort and fear

i don’t want to lose religion

i want to maintain mystery

childlike wonder, mystical awe,

but deny blind faith, helplessness,

being the victim, and living

in unquestioning manmade fear

i want to honor those peasants,

who built traditions and buildings

that helped cement society

together the best they knew how,

i want to honor those peasants,

with an understanding of faith

that is infinitely as big

as an old universe within


Raymond P. Hammond is the editor-in-chief of both The New York Quarterly and NYQ Books. He holds an MA in English Literature from New York University and is the author of Poetic Amusement, a book of literary criticism. He lives near Scranton, PA with his wife, the poet Amanda J. Bradley, and their dog Hank.


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