Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

That Old-Time Religion

When I was young and randy, 
I went to church every Sunday
to keep my parents happy.
"Almighty God has given us 
the Ten Commandments,
not the Ten Suggestions,"
the old preacher used to say.
Now I'm old and randy 
but I always go to church 
yet I seldom hear a sermon.
What I hear now is something 
preachers call a homily. 

Homilies are nice.
They let you leave church 
in a good mood, ravenous
for the Sunday roast.
But most homilies shoot blanks.
They seldom strike a chord. 
Machine-gun sermons 
when I was young and randy
sprayed words all over church,
and if they didn't hit you,
you were bobbin' and duckin', 
the old folks used to say

Homilies seldom mention sin 
and almost never mention hell.
When I was young and randy,
sin and hell were the DNA
of any decent sermon.
Now, homilies explain
how much God loves me
and italicize that basic truth
over and over by quoting 
passages from Scripture.

Few homilies, however, note 
that God has standards 
and expects His flock to meet them.
"The elevator goes both ways,"
the old preacher used to say. 
His sermons often scared me 
and I used to stay scared until 
Monday afternoon at school
when I'd let Florence Puppo,
who was tall and fetching
go upstairs in front of me.
God loves Florence, too, 
I'd tell myself, so why not 
let her sway her way 
up the stairs ahead of me. 

Homilies are reassuring 
but I don't know if I'd be 
going to church now
if I had heard homilies
instead of sermons back
when I was young and randy.
A good sermon can leave a scar
old men scratch when the years 
go South for the winter.
"God's not playin' games!"
the old preacher used to say.
I'd like to see that preacher 
in our pulpit now. 
He'd use his blowtorch
of that Old-Time Religion 
and let the flames flare.
He'd make the congregation 
bob and duck every Sunday 
instead of sitting up straight
and smiling on occasion.

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

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