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  • Maurice O'Sullivan


by Maurice O'Sullivan

The nuns once said that when we’re dead

and cast aside our need for bread,

we’ll all be cherubs at God’s side

with no more sin and no more pride.

But none of us at St. Al’s School

could see that future as real cool.

It might well suit Arsenius

Macarius, Pachomius,

those solemn desert anchorites

who prayed and fasted days and nights.

But Jersey kids did not aspire

to join that dull celestial choir.

We hoped that heaven might be more rad,

more teal and cream than brown and plaid,

a smoky bar with Frank Sinatra

not some boring Bach cantata.

The Jebbies took a different track.

For them there was no white or black;

they taught that paradise could be

an infinite variety.

That world postmortem, now our choice,

could be the Dublin of James Joyce,

the storm-tormented wine dark sea

of Homer’s epic Odyssey,

or even darkly lit mean streets

where Raymond Chandler’s cops walked beats.

(For TV fans, eternity

might be designed by Walt Disney—

and for the hyperactive gland

perhaps American Bandstand.)

My fellow academics nod

and gently smile, but find it odd,

that folks like me would speak of God.

They think it all a fairy tale

like Jonah and his magic whale;

they blame it on my Irish genes

(or too much Aquinas in my teens).

So back I smile and gently nod,

and they’re content with my façade.

But on my own, and late at night,

I often hope those Jebs were right.

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