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Holy Day
Liz Dolan

Prim in my proper dress, I sat
seventh period, red-lining Latin roots:
amo-amiable, rex-regalia. The November sun
blanched the library’s tomes as Lincolnesque
Mr. Stollmeyer listed in, pale as parchment.
The president has been shot, he said.
We fingered our mouths as if testing
for breath How will we tell our students?
It was the feast of St. Cecelia, patroness
of music,  pewter harp in hand. Forced
to marry, she remained a virgin, converted
Valerian. Unwilling to worship Roman idols
she was thrown into a vat of boiling oil
for burying bodies of believers rather than
let the vultures peck out their souls
dice their livers like dreck. Unlike Jack,
she escaped unscathed, sweet notes floating
from her throat like swallows. I wonder if
the witty, handsome Jack could sing, recite
his Latin declensions, say his evening prayers. Once,
playing chicken, he cycled headlong into his brother
Joe, flew into the air, floated-until the whoosh,
the blow to the head, sharp, surprising and painful.
Relax, he told himself, twenty-eight stitches woven
into his shock of wheat-colored hair. Too late for stitches
now.  His father told him he had the goodsMy mother
always said, No good comes to those who warm their hearth
by peddlin’ poteen. The siren of the fire engine
roaring by muffled the message on the loudspeaker.
This poem first appeared in The Kennedy Curse (Exter Press, 2013).
Used here with the author’s permission.

 Liz Dolan, a retired English teacher who lives in Rehoboth, Delaware, has won numerous awards for her work, including six Pushcart nominations. As director of an alternative school in the Bronx, where she was born and raised, Liz helped increase attendance from 65 percent to 90 percent by initiating a daily program of writing across the curriculum. Mother of two and grandmother of ten--who "pepper her life," says Liz--she devotes several days a week to babysitting in between composing poetry, short stories and memoirs.



Post New Comment:
JoAnn Balingit:
Yes, so many of us were at school, a setting where the facade of having some control over our lives was good until it was shattered. So were many of our kids at school when they learned about 9/11. My teacher that day was Sister Cosmos, the cosmos--the only time I ever saw her at a loss for giving us, after a grave announcement, The Lesson.
Posted 03/11/2014 07:43 PM
hi liz I found it and you. how good god is. I signed on so lets see what happens. my friend from the south Bronx.
Posted 11/24/2013 08:42 PM
Wilda Morris:
I remember that day so well. It was the first tragedy my husband and I experienced together. Including Saint Cecilia enriches the poem considerably.
Posted 11/23/2013 06:13 AM
Ah, the feast of Saint Cecilia--perfect.
Posted 11/22/2013 08:41 AM
Wow! I am there, as I was 50 years ago. Beautiful poem!
Posted 11/22/2013 08:28 AM
This is brilliant! I wish I could have gone to Liz's alternative school! Today, I found this quotation from when this President was a young man: poetolatry, n. - the worship or immoderate veneration of poets. 1939 ' Naturalism..wants poets to be a separate race of great souls or mahatmas. Poetolatry is the natural result, for if there were such a race..those who know no higher deity would do well to worship them.' - E. M. W. Tillyard & C. S. Lewis Personal Heresy v. 104 I know nothing of American politics; but briefly worship Liz Dolan's words as they live for me. Thank you.
Posted 11/22/2013 07:55 AM

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