School Service


Under a finger-pointing spire
we sat, thigh-jammed in pews.
Elsewhere, our distracted desires,
the fleshy heat felt
through grey trouser and innocent skirt,
got sung away incomprehensibly.

Our squeaky voices pitched erratic,
and stubby wee hands held
thready, grubby hymn-books,
slowly dismantled, idly picked.

We’d scan dull eyes lolling
of other kids in other years,
see them mouthing stuff,
gossip , jokes
collecting scowls from bored teachers.

The minister got uselessly folksy

An organ pitched in, with some half-known clue

then we’d all stand, again,
and sing something else we didn’t believe.

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27 thoughts on “School Service

    • Every week, Tuesday 9 a.m.we were herded by the school for an hour of unfeeling religion. Where the Word was stripped of meaning and was devoid of any connection to our lives. The last throw of the patriarchs.

      • Thank you. It certainly explains why I liked your latest poem so much, doesn’t it? I hope you’re enjoying your retirement. 🙂

      • Time being taken up with de-cluttering and redecorating to sell the house. Plus Susie is spending time with our daughter, uCassie, who suffers from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and is not doing too well. Thus the writing volume goes up, filling the space at night.

    • It’s the nature of drumming a religion into children, with little understanding from authority figures. The sadness I find is the authoritarian hierarchical pointlessness of organised patriarchal churches.

      • I guess I find it sad because, having studied and personally pursued my own faith, when I sing I believe what I sing. It is sad that so often religion misses the point of faith, which is relationship with one’s Creator. Understanding the nature of that relationship as one of love and grace are, for me, the key. Peace, Linda

  1. My younger sister, nearly 10 at the time, came too close to a nervous-breakdown after a Sunday school teacher said everyone is a sinner and goes to hell. That sort of thing shouldn’t be allowed; it’s abuse.

  2. A brutally honest and candid share ~ I think if religion is just jammed down our throats we will have no appreciation of it ~ Its in the searching and finding it that our thirst and passion for the Word grows ~ Really well done Brian ~

  3. Oh heck, this is superb. It reminds me of my own school days! I love the lines:

    ‘the fleshy heat felt
    through grey trouser and innocent skirt,
    got sung away incomprehensibly’

    and

    ‘collecting scowls from bored teachers’.

    .

  4. It certainly brings back memories of school assemblies. We used to have one every day when I was a kid! And we would find some way to get out of it or make fun as kids do so i like the ‘hilariously folksy minister’

  5. I got kicked out of Sunday school at 6 for asking too many questions. Even my grandmother had to admit I was unlikely to get much out of a religious inculcation. The mystics always caught my attention more than the rules and traditions.

  6. SMiLes..
    taboos oF
    aLLKinds
    ultiMate
    hUman
    sacrifices
    iN sacraments
    oF Animal LiVE ReaL..
    HUmans WiLL
    bE
    Nat
    Ure
    Free..
    bottom
    and top line
    oF existence noW..
    oh.. the allure.. of pews
    and short
    skirts.. sTiLL..;)

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