One of my uncles, a bit of a rough diamond and chancer, was in hospital in Leeds, dying (as it turned out) from lung cancer. We visited him..it was Christmas. The Salvation Army were doing the rounds. At this point I need to step carefully. I have great respect for the Sally Army, and a soft spot, too. I used to admire their chutzpah, doing the Friday night rounds of rough pubs, selling The War Cry. And my dad played cornet and trumpet in a Salvation Army band. So, there we were, the Sally Army singing carols around the wards, and confidently and sincerely announcing that Jesus Saves. My Uncle Tom swore at them so profanely and obscenely and loudly and so sustainedly it took a number of staff to restrain/subdue/quieten hhim. Which is why today’s poem rings a bell very loudly.
The God Squad : Rose Drew
Please don’t try to save my soul:
it is not lost;
please don’t hammer me with your views,
they aren’t mine;
please do not hound me down the hospital hall,
cries of “I prayed for you!”,
claiming Holy Credit for my health.
Please do not pull up chairs beside me,
removing the New York Times
that I was reading,
so you can ponder my emptiness,
my scary nights of no
Great God Mommy
come to tuck me in, salve my wounds,
put cool cloth on my brow,
Go burn the sacred texts in some poor village,
knock down another False Idol that comforts heathens
whom you wish to save so they will not
go remove all trace of the God of Peace, Good Yams,
Safe Motherhood, Plentiful Game, and install
your own God —
until the next God Squad
removes your spreading lichen views,
and chisels your Saints
from re-named temple walls.
from Temporary Safety (2011, Fighting Cock Press)
Is an American, firmly based in York.She is a politically active poet and an anthropologist. She has written a novella and a few short stories, but her other interest is in expressing her enthusiasm for human skeletal remains, and what they might tell us about life in the past.
She also writes non-fiction, both creative and academic. In early 2005, she and her partner Alan changed the direction of their tiny business Stairwell Books from printing out pamphlets for readings, to a small press focusing on poetry. By 2007, they had also taken on prose, and now publish 10-15 books a year, both in print and e-formats.. Since 2011, Stairwell publishes Dream Catcher Magazine, which originated in York.