Poem: “Alert Sunday- First Sunday in Advent”

Alert Sunday–First Sunday in Advent

Alert Sunday. The greeter has smiles on his palms as he
Opens the church doors. Welcome to Advent!
A shorter version of Lent in December, he quips.
A chorus of coughs and women’s high
Heels parading across the floor tiles
Help me stay awake for 8:00 a.m. Mass.
I never noticed so many people dressed in polluted rags–
Shirts and jackets with totem animals, handbags with silver eyes:
Their sins will carry them away in fashionable windbreakers.

Stay awake. New changes in the liturgy. Stay awake.
I now have to announce a trinity of my faults, grievous to the bone;
I can’t hide anymore in a congregation of we at the Creed.
The Word wants me to be ready for new words.
Also with you. It’s gone.
Stay awake with your spirit.
I never thought of God as an employer, but he’s calling
For 24-hour shifts; give me a strong dose of spiritual No-Doz.
No gossiping, pray before I speak, don’t curse at darting traffic
Angels might be driving by on more important errands than
My getting home. All I can see is a single candle
Staying awake in the dark.

Philip C. Kolin
November 27, 2011

Philip C. Kolin, Professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, has published four books of poems, including Deep Wonder: Poems (Grey Owl Press, 2000) and, most recently, A Parable of Women: Poems (Yazoo River Press, 2009). More than 200 of his poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in such journals as Christian Century, America, St. Austin Review, Christianity and Literature, Michigan Quarterly Review, Windhover, Seminary Ridge Review, Louisiana Literature, Blue Collar Review, St. Anthony Messenger, South Carolina  Review, etc. Kolin is also the founding editor of Vineyards: A Journal of Christian Poetry (www.vineyardspoetry.com) .  He was educated by the Jesuits and the Dominicans and considers St. Joseph his patron.