The Shrine That Wasn’t

Chris O'Carroll

Thanking our hosts for food and wine, we said

We’d take a walk around their neighborhood

Before we caught a late train home to bed.

Just down the block, the smell of fresh-cut wood

Drew us to the sawdusted grassy verge.

The whorl we spied inside the severed limb

Begot a prankish, troublemaking urge.

The standard cowled outline of Her or Him

Adorned the stump. Let’s call a TV crew,

Undo streetlamp-haloed serenity!

A Fatima-like frenzy will ensue

As pilgrims throng to worship at this tree!

We didn’t call. Our laughter was a prayer

Keeping real faith with what was really there.


Chris O’Carroll is a writer and an actor. His poems have appeared in Angle, Light, Literary Review, Measure, and The Rotary Dial, among other print and online journals.


New FI Literary Editor

Free Inquiry welcomes Cheryl Quimba as its new Literary Editor. Quimba is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Purdue University. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she works at the fiction publisher, Starcherone Books, and is a Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Please send poetry submissions of up to five poems to her at cquimba@centerforinquiry.net. Poems can be included in the message body or in one file as a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf attachment. Hard-copy submissions may be mailed to Free Inquiry, ATTN: Poetry Editor, P.O. Box 664, Amherst, NY 14226-0664.

Chris O'Carroll

Chris O’Carroll is a writer and an actor. His poems have appeared in Angle, Asses of Parnassus, Light, Literary Review, and The Rotary Dial, among other print and online journals, and in the anthology Poems for a Liminal Age, published to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders.


A poem from the August/September 2014 issue of Free Inquiry.

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