“To a Child Failing Religion” by Vincent Casaregola

Sacred Space Aspen by Mark Yale Harris

On Holy Thursday, you
came from school, chagrined
and tearful in your wrinkled plaid,
having failed the religion test—
forgetting the place
for “Ordinary Time,”
confusing what season fit
in which convenient blank.

When you returned, that night,
to sing the Lord’s Supper Feast,
did you recall how Gospels tell
of Peter, often clueless,
stumbling into fear and flight,
falling further, denial by denial,
to recognition and regret?

Failed tests of faith shadow us
down long years of agony and error,
the scarred history of every
righteous claim—so many have
manifest confusion in the name
of truth, have written “hate”
in the space ordained for “love,”

I pray your child’s heart, humble yet,
will learn the difference between
a single peaceful voice and
a thousand preaching tongues,
might know, as well, the simple
holiness and awkward blessing
that even failure brings.


Vincent Casaregola teaches American literature and film, creative writing, rhetorical studies, and composition at Saint Louis University. Recently, he has published poetry in a number of journals, including The Bellevue Literary Review, The Examined Life, Natural Bridge, WLA, Dappled Things, 2River, Work, Lifelines, and Blood and Thunder. He has also published creative nonfiction in New Letters and The North American Review.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Mark Yale Harris spent his childhood enthralled in a world of  drawing and painting. Though honored for his creative endeavors, he was encouraged to pursue  a more conventional career. After finding conventional success, the artistic passion that existed  just beneath the surface was able to present itself. Harris began sculpting, and has since created  an evolving body of work in stone and bronze, now featured in public collections, museums and  galleries worldwide, including: Hilton Hotels; Royal Academy of London; Marin MOCA; Four Seasons Hotels and the Open Air Museum – Ube, Japan.