Mercy was a schoolyard word

Mercy was a schoolyard word,

the key unlocking the grip of the bully,

something I saw often enough

but normally (neatly, nimbly)

dodged myself. God did thus

himself a disservice, putting

his good word first in the

mouth of the enemy who demanded it –

of his victim no less.

And this was part of a larger pattern,

I saw, God betting on the wrong horse,

dumping his treasures in the mud,

thinking all-screwed-up might make

the good, the true and the beautiful


Oh I’ll admit:

I never see the truth better

than when I’m wrong

or love purity more

than when I’ve sinned.

So maybe this is just the way.

But why?

Why must dark

dress up our day?


I don’t like the stupid part

of being a disciple –

how you have to learn

the same lessons again and again,

fight the same fights,

and offer the same apologies

thirty years in a row.

I’m sick to death

of thinking I get it –

feeling contrite at Mass,

all that wet-eyed resolve

and the light shining on

just the right window

at just the right time –

until you’re again coughing, after,

over your coffee, sputtering

your justifications and wondering

secretly if God Himself is not choking,

ready finally to keep His promise

and spit you from His mouth!