Catholic Poetry Room

[CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Poets are invited to submit up to three poems for consideration. Looking, as always, for quality work reflecting a life in faith as well as feast-/season-specific pieces: Advent/Christmas, feast days (St. Francis is already covered). Thanks in advance and God bless. Jeffrey]

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Philip C. Kolin.

The Prayer Lady’s Coffee

She made it strong
enough to withstand tears.

Nothing watered down,
the stark dogma

of caffeine exorcism,
a jolt for my soul,

current sizzling through my body,
making my tongue squirm,

confessing my jittery sins,
fidgeting with my convenient prayers

I hoped would save me.
You must change your life’s

direction, she insisted, pouring more
in my cup, emptying my pretenses

in her kitchen; sip by
sip, the coffee washed away

any excuses, forgetfulness, self-pity,
no easy angels here to protect me.

She had me drink these liquid ashes
to get through this dark night of my soul.

Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus and Editor Emeritus of the Southern Quarterly at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams as well as fifteen collections of poetry, among them Benedict’s Daughter: Poems (Wipf and Stock, 2017), Wholly God’s: Poems (Wind and Water Press, 2021), and Mapping Trauma: Poems about Black History (Third World Press, 2023).

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