Religious Symptoms  

Dutch researchers now say too much praying
in church is dangerous to your health

—The Los Angeles Times

The Dutch say that the odd church candle
Is much too much for us to handle,
And worshiping upon one’s knees
Midst incense smoke will cause disease.

Just when we think there is no bar
To lower, we hear some bizarre
Health warning not to worship in
An enclosed space; confess our sin,

Petition the Almighty for
Protection from each germ, pregnant spore,
For sneezing and an allergy
Await those sinners who would be

Religious. Still, some find the church;
Past female acolytes they lurch
Fighting the dreaded sneeze and cough
While shuffling their transgressions off.

Yet if Dutch churches spread disease
Like tulip bulbs, and Edam cheese
It’s not an allergy we fear
That keeps us from attending here.

For sickness has its own cachet
If caught in a religious way;
The sinus works beside the soul
To keep each conscience clean and whole.

In older times most folks were tough;
Their faith was sure, their justice rough.
Now, countless pretty colored pills
Cannot dispel our varied ills;

Can’t cure those sycophants, who drone
While Gaia’s on the highest throne
And want the ritual changed about—
Oh Jesus, come and throw them out!

Your pews are empty, Blessed Church.
The Saints are sneezing on each perch;
And not from breathing enclosed air,
But weeping for this sad affair.

So put your candles out, old girl;
You’ve had a run and quite a whirl—
Now allergies can scare us worse
Than pitchforks, and a flaming hearse.





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A former Wilbur Fellow and six-time nominee for a Pushcart award, in 2007, she has published three books, Measured By Song, Making Music. As one of two finalists in the 2013 Aldrich Press Poetry Book Award, Cook was awarded publication of the manuscript for The View From Here, her third book I During Poetry Week 2014, The Poetry Collecftion at SUNYAB, Buffalo, published Cook’s chapbook of her work. Poems and essays by Sally Cook have appeared in numerous magazines and journals such as Blue Unicorn, Chronicles, First Things, The Formalist Portal, Light Quarterly, Lighten Up Online, National Review, Pennsylvania Review, Trinacria and other venues, both print and electronic. The poet is also a painter of Magic Realist paintings. She began as an exhibitor in Manhattan’s Tenth Street Co-operative Galleries, moved into geometrics and went on from there. Her work has been exhibited at many leading galleries and museums and represented in national collections.