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
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.