Robot Factory – Patrick T. Reardon

Windows broken, robot
factory silent, acres of
weed-written empty —
I flame by on Cain & Abel
Highway for Albuquerque,
wanting to get where I’m
going — a messiah boy
from the hills, quiet and
pleasant, who assures me
all will be well but comes
down with grim Covid. Ye
of little faith.

I wander the Old Town
at mid-week noon, low
humidity but hot enough
to saute my memories,
and, in the black blotch
my eyes see, I am
spelunking outside St.
Louis and come through
one more erratic birth
cave to find the still
moveless body of Jesus,
but it is only Saturday, so
I let him sleep, and come
out to daylight just feet
from cliff edge where I
rappel 100 feet to the
path below, look back up,
step back away, to realize
it is the old stone face of
solemn John of the Cross.

After breathing into a
brown bag and wiping off
what little sweat there is
on my forehead, I enter
the cool white-washed
nave of San Felipe de Neri
Church.  I sit.  Later, a
cassocked guy steps lively
up the aisle marble, full
of animal vim, to my pew:
“You’re snoring.”

“Bless you, too, Father, for
I have sinned.”  It’s only a
few hot blocks to the heavy
A/C of McDonald’s on Central
Avenue Northwest and a
free-refill Diet Coke, and a
table a few feet away from
a guy with sun-coffee-ed
skin and some sort of handgun
in his under-arm holster and
an anger against Bulgarians
and a woman so pale she
must be from up North, and
I’m getting the impression
that she is ready to doze
off and he used to work at
the robot factory until the
owners gutted it and shipped
away the machining machines
— to Bulgaria, I guess —
leaving him in the same lurch
I’m in, needing salvation of
any flavor but only finding a
sick kid, mild sunstroke and
a vexed man of God.

Patrick ReardonPatrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared in Silver Birch Press, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Rhino, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea and Under a Warm Green Linden.