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Teddy bear window display
halts three gossips
while the red traffic light matches nails, lipstick & hats.

In the corner cafe
a man sits sideways at window bar
his sunburnt neck fringed with gray curls.

Across the street a church
projects the Virgin of Guadalupe
upon its five story warehouse facade.

The Virgin stands unaware of crosswalks
and people, eyes down,
unsure which serpents need crushing.

The Sunday bells recording
electronically rings folks into the plain brick vestibule
and onto folding chairs, while the man

wears a newspaper face mask
and fetches from around the headline margins
his tea cup from the table for sipping.

The three gossips
pick it up as the light changes
and they flow with the crowd

toward manufactured sanctuary, atonement
and redemption for five dollars
dropped in the collection plate.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


One dawn I crawled
out from under the pews
and replaced the book
of common prayer
I used as a pillow.

On the cross
the Christ
seemed to be asleep,
so I tiptoed
not wishing to wake him
and jar him out of sorts
an hour before
the Sunday faithful
pinned their woes
to his flesh.

In the vestibule
a stack of polished oaken
collection plates
awaited the touch
of congregant hands
and the weight of money
as a secondary relief
from sin.

I seeded the top plate
with a dollar
on my way out.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney