Poem in which God or I Go Missing

Susan L. Leary


There’s nothing more subjective than facts,
so to God’s funeral we wear a paper gown with pockets
the size of gills. Inside one pocket, the saddest
grimace. Inside the other, a wind so barbaric, it steals
wildflowers from the earth & filters them through a strobe
light across the dance floor. To celebrate God is to celebrate
capitalism, so there must be order if we are to remain
engaged. All of us, the obedient child with anybody’s address
pinned to our shirts. Even the dumbest dog cannot tolerate
reality & waits for a pat on the head. Forgive me,
but I’d rather arrive early to breakfast & late to work, pay
all the bills in scratch-offs. But we can eat cake! shouts
the surgeon. We can pen a thousand eulogies & plunge
to bed in language! Except that a rich man’s scalpel
cannot carve the difference between what’s in our pockets
& his. Would anyone bat an eye if God went missing?
If his body were lugged from its ivory casket & exchanged
at Walmart for a cheap apparatus that lets us breathe
undersea. I don’t know. But had I heard, asks the surgeon’s
son, that wind is the dust of martyrs.


Susan L. Leary is the author of A Buffet Table Fit for Queens (Small Harbor Publishing, 2023), winner of The Washburn Prize; Contraband Paradise (Main Street Rag, 2021); and the chapbook, This Girl, Your Disciple (Finishing Line Press, 2019), finalist for The Heartland Review Press Chapbook Prize and semi-finalist for The Elyse Wolf Prize with Slate Roof Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Indiana ReviewTar River PoetryTahoma Literary ReviewSuperstition ReviewDMQ ReviewCherry Tree, and Pithead Chapel. She holds an MFA from the University of Miami, where she also teaches Writing Studies. Visit her at www.susanlleary.com.

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