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.

Sally Cook is both painter and poet. Whether writ­ing or paint­ing, she keeps a sharp eye out for the psy­cho­log­i­cal por­trait. Her essays and poetry have been pub­lished in jour­nals such as The Chimera, Chron­i­cles, Con­tem­po­rary Son­net, Iambs & Trochees, Pivot, and The For­mal­ist Por­tal. Look for her in the next issue of Light Quar­terly. Cook’s review “Rhyming The Right”, of William Baer’s anthol­ogy “The Con­ser­v­a­tive Poets”, may be seen both in the cur­rent issue of The Uni­ver­sity Book­man and on its website.