top of page
Image by Josh Applegate


with the martello journal

Mass: An Internal Commentary

by jay rafferty

It’s cold. It’s always been cold
in here. I think those radiators were put
in for nothing but show. Jesus, I can’t
hear a word that priest is saying.

Those speakers are shot or his words
can’t hold their form, can’t hold their shape
in the empty air between us and the saints
on the ceiling. Dymphna needs a touch up.

They’ve the typical battle axe doing the readings.
The fire and brimstone type. Dreary, grey, taut. She’d be lost
without the Old Testament. Some psalm response today.
Remember this, you who never think of God.

Has it always sounded like this? An incantational hum,
more muscle memory than understanding? Thoughtless
recitation. Do these people even think of the words?
Their roots, their Latin branches, their Hebrew bark?

Gospel. Could catch that at least. Matthew
did he say? Thumb cross brow, lips, heart.
What was that? Oh, ballpoint in my breast
pocket. Been serving six months. Reliable so far

So good to hear kids laughing. Two toddlers in the pew
parallel, across the aisle abyss. The pair of them
playing peekaboo between the slots in the pew backs.
Squealing delight. Who would have the heart to shush them?

It’s been a hot second from I was here, were these always
the answers? And with your spirit. Remember that
changing but what’s with the rest of these catechetical replies?
Wait, it’s the rosary. The speakers really are over the hill

Back in the day Mr Minne would be thumping that
gargantuan organ into life. Nice man. All automated now.
Youtubed hymns. Have never heard a more dreary
Amen or Hallelujah. You couldn’t transfigure to that

Christ’s flesh tastes stale. Someone forgot to close the
sacred bread bin. Gotta try to pray. HailMaryfullofgracethelord
iswiththeeblessedartthouamongwomenandblessedisthefru— How
is it holding its shape this long? Should be mush by now.

I wonder what we look like from up top. Scattered and few
like a scantron with no clear rhyme or reason. Grey heads: bubbles
filled by pencil. Bald heads: bubbles once full and erased. Dyed
heads: bubbles filled by ballpoint. What’s the answer key?

Hosanna in the Highest! Saved by the bells chiming the hour.
One bong, two, eight bongs in all from the belfry, rolling the end
credits down through the spires, passed the saints. We don’t need
subtitles for the final furlough. Time to go in peace to love and serve the lord.

Jay Rafferty is a redhead, an uncle and an eejit. He is the Poetry Editor for Sage Cigarettes Magazine and a guest lecturer on Contemporary and Irish Poetry. His debut poetry chapbook, Holy Things, was published in March from The Broken Spine and his follow-up chapbook, Strange Magic, came out in June of 2022 from Alien Buddha Press. You can read his work in several journals including Wine Cellar Press, Howl Writing and Daily Drunk Magazine. When not losing games of pool he, sometimes, writes stuff.

bottom of page