by Alan Berecka

Hey, I know these numbers that never add up
and all this wondering about whose feelings may
or may not be hurt by what we may or might
not choose to do is important, or, at least
that’s what everyone else at this table keeps
saying, so my mind should be focused
on church business, but this month’s vestry
meeting just burnt past the three hour mark,
and my brain has skipped bail.
It’s running
with my friend, the Okie poet, Jim Spurr
another lapsed Catholic who’s recent funeral
was in the Episcopal Church up in Shawnee.
It’s rehashing our talk about our conversions,
and how we both still rooted for Notre Dame
because the Episcopalians didn’t field a team
but, if they did, we knew their uniforms
would be marvelous and sport gold epaulets.
It’s remembering how Jim and I bitched
about the Anglican brotherhood not believing
in purgatory, how that seemed like a blown
chance for a couple of guys who had crossed
a line or two during our time; it’s replaying
that time after a reading in Ada, how Jim sidled
up to me with a big smirk dancing across his face,
how he proclaimed, "Poetry is about irreverence,
and, Alan, you are one irreverent so’m bitch."

Meanwhile this meeting of the well-meaning drags
on hitting the three and a half hour mark. I realize
I’m drowning in these kind folks’ earnestness—
the great antidote to art, and I begin to wonder
if I’ll ever be able to write another poem.

As my eyes glaze over our Senior Warden,
a really sweet woman, begins to morph
into one of Jim’s cats, cats that he named
for the Fighting Irish greats. She grows
into a sleek tigress that stalks me, pins me
to the back of my brain. I read Rockne
on her collar as she leans in to suck out
my ironic core, just as some seated savoir
with a superhero’s timing seconds the motion
to adjourn. I voice my favor and escape.

As folks stand and gather their stuff,
Spurr comes to me in a vision; he’s dressed
like Henry VIII. He’s carrying a cold beer
in one hand and St. Peter’s keys in the other.
He’s got that shit-eating grin I know I will miss
spread across his face as he points the bottle
in my direction and says. "Four hour meetings?
Pal, forget limbo. I sentence you to time served."

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