My days are measured

By bottles of discount wine,

My weeks by clean linens;

Each morning

I seek salvation

in a cafe benison.

 

Sleep, sleep divine,

Why should eternal sleep

not be heaven?

 

For religion begins

Where knowledge ends.

 

My little fame in life,

I know,

Will be confined

to a freeway sign:

“Missing Elderly,”

numinous against

a gray morning sky,

Flashing, flashing, flashing

above a highway exit.

 

The door was closed

and did not open,

So how did the cat

go out again?

But remembering to floss

gives each day

a bright new meaning.

 

So knowledge ends

Where religion begins.

 

Italy’s third volcano,

what’s it called?

Not Etna or Vesuvius,

The one in the movie we saw?

I forget, though I should know;

And not Olympus,

with Hera and Zeus

and Jove.

 

For us mortals what does it signify,

purchasing stain remover

by the gallon?

Pessimism of drooled spaghetti

or long life’s delusive

grand ambition?

 

All hail Staphylococcus,

with my name on it;

Where fear reigns,

religion gains.

 

Dough, the financial guru says,

you’ll need ’til you’re ninety five,

or perhaps, I think,

to .38,

Or maybe I’ll rob a bank

or fail to pay my taxes

for a prison bunk

and hospital bed.

But what about the poor teller,

the cop

and the unlucky feller

who has to clean up the mess?

 

But hark!

The coffee grinder churns,

the espresso machine

still renders,

so why should I surrender?

 

Yea, verily, I declare

on my life’s embers

that where true knowledge ends

unyielding ignorance begins

and religion wins.

 

James Garrison

A graduate of the University of North Carolina and Duke Law School, James Garrison practiced law until returning to his first loves: writing and reading good literature. His novel, QL 4 (TouchPoint Press 2017), set in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War, has won awards for literary fiction and military fiction, and it was a Distinguished Favorite for the 2019 Independent Press Awards and a finalist for the 2018 Montaigne Medal. His creative nonfiction works and poems have appeared in online magazines and anthologies. Sheila-Na-Gig nominated his poem “Lost: On the Staten Island Ferry”‘ for a 2018 Pushcart prize.

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