• Marilee Pritchard


Jesus were you off duty when

the war raged in El Salvador?

Were you hiding in the last pew the day

a new archbishop was consecrated in the cathedral?

Oscar Romero—no barn burner

expected to bless the sisters,

shut his mouth,

hold the line.

Instead, he couldn’t stop talking

about the bloodied bodies in garbage dumps,

haunted looks from violated women,

starving kids drumming rat-a-tat

with dead men’s bones.

Oscar Romero put down his books and miter,

called out a US president,

admonished a Polish pope,

was assassinated saying mass.

A red car sped by,

a lone gunman,

a single bullet,

Oscar Romero took it to heart.

And Jesus where was your heart

when we sought sanctuary

in the cathedral?

Did you run out of stuff

passing out loaves and fishes or

were there so many of us

you couldn’t see your way

to the end of the line?

Marilee Pritchard is a retired RN who lives in the Chicago suburbs. She likes poetry that uses accessible language, tells a story, and employs beautiful imagery. Previous publications include Paterson Literary Review, Third Wednesday, Back Channels, and After Hours.