so much for social gospel

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    toothless spinster met down the lane,
    deep creased face, evident pain;

    i braked my bike to chat a little,
    fast her speech, sprayed fine spittle.

    i tolerated her complaining ramble;
    observed garden overgrown by bramble.

    gate trapped her dogs, viciously barking,
    bared teeth threatened canine bite marking.

    i departed with promise to return
    – what good did those many visits earn?

    gross mush spoon stirred over open fire,
    action TV show couldn’t go much higher,

    dogs scratched shut door, quite insistent,
    silent my prayers, quite persistent.

    on seat-edge I very nervously sat,
    determined, I continued to chat;

    after some home visits i trimmed back
    her overgrown garden, sawed and hacked

    her tentacled foliage, over many hours,
    no longer choked, few gallant flowers.

    evangelical in my amateur clearance,
    some locals saw “souper” style interference:

    kindly-meant my frequent calling,
    but Legion saw my visits galling.

    I was usurped, then slightly despondent,
    irrelevant now, reluctantly redundant:

    – so much for my social gospel endeavour;
    God sees all, both stupid and clever…


    *souper – a derogatory term for Protestants

    ** Legion: The Legion of Mary, a Catholic co-operation in Mary’s and the Church’s work.


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