Assorted Broken Saints

By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall

A Man and His Dog at Sunday Mass

 And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

-Thomas Merton, “For my Brother – Missing in Action 1943”

His pilgrimage on earth is in his van
His clapped-out van, his one-man caravan
With an air-conditioner duct-taped in back
And his old dog next to him in the seat

At Mass he sits in back with his good old dog
His clothes are warm, he gets enough to eat
And, sure, a man and dog who approach their God
Together are good and faithful servants indeed

His pilgrimage on earth is in his van
His clapped-out van, his one-man caravan



And Whose Fault is That?
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, “Will you also go away?”
Then Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.”

Catholics are much disapproved of these days
And whose fault is that?
Catholics even disapprove of each other
And whose fault is that?

Lawsuits and lockouts and altars abandoned
And whose fault is that?
The ‘net all clogged with angry Catholic sites
And whose fault is that?

Well, yeah, mine too

We are perfectly free to go away
But we won’t – because He asks us to stay


Assorted Broken Saints, Some with Parts Missing
A petition to Saint John Marie-Baptiste Vianney

After doing some time in this fallen world
We all are broken, and missing a few of our parts
Having lost some hopes and strengths along the way
But we keep chooglin’ along, making it work

And shoveling (life) with us, our parish priest
Just as Chaucer wrote, beginning at dawn
Five of six cylinders from church to church
Ignored by the bishop and unknown to Rome

Our daily saint in his well-worn chasuble
His old shoes squeaking to the Altar of God

Saint John Vianney, pray for our laborers


Face Masks and Hippie Hymns

At Mass I breathe behind and through a mask
My custom still, one of the paper-faced few
Although one might with some good reason ask
If it serves much purpose in a crowded pew

Each humid exhalation clouds the lens
Of my eyeglasses so I can’t even read
But I’m sure I know how each lesson ends
Needless to say I’ve memorized the Creed

And to mask those sandwich hymns:

I make hidden faces when the soloist croons
Another of those awful hippie tunes

(Has anyone told the music director that the 1960’s are over?)


Looking Back on the Day

Looking back on the day – did I give thanks?
I lazed over my coffee and the morning news
Noted the crows and the morning’s light frost
But that’s not good enough

I washed the dishes and a load of clothes
Looked into a novel and a poetry book
Sorted laundry and fed the squirrels and birds
And that’s not good enough

One gives thanks for another day of life
By making that day what it should be


Ten Knots Along a Cord
A trewe swinkere and a good was he,
Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee
-Chaucer’s Prologue

See the plowman walking home from the fields
He plods along with the pace of centuries
There is no haste, for time hardly exists
Only the seasons, rolling like cosmic tides

And in his hand, ten knots along a cord
To count each Ave as it passes his lips
And through his heart and hopes and gratitude
His soul secure along the links of being

See the plowman dreaming home from the fields
His feet upon the earth, his head among the stars

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