The Nun-Catholics
by Dan Senn

The nuns
at St. Mary’s Hospital,
said my Mum,
secretly baptized
non-Catholic babies, 
which I believe,
cuz she worked
with them.

I liked this
inside information
as I was good
for communion
‘cross Europe
in thousands of Churches
with beautiful echos,
smells, choirs
and organ pipes,
where the Pope
was boss.

This new St. Mary’s,
was built in 1969.

Well, really, 1970,
when it was finished.

I graduated
from high school
in 1969, and,
while my friends
went to college,
most anyways,
I went to work
for Local 464 as a
construction laborer
I was afraid
to fill out
the application and
take that scary test.

 I might be too stupid!

So, I went to work
and learned to
build things 'longside
tough guys
who carried things
on their shoulders,
smoked dope,
and pretended
not to be gay
until they trusted you
and then
made no bones.

When they learned
the truth,
they packed up
and went to Illinois
and I went back
to my elementary school
putting in footings
for a new addition,
that is,
until I chopped a hole
in my right foot.

Here, at this
fancy new site,
I roped up 50 feet
of scaffolding,
section by section,
and helped pour
that waffled ceiling
way up there…

still looks good,

…now, with ceiling fans
whizzing ‘round,
4 inches of shiny snow
just outside those
windows… over there.

Fifty feet further…
just outside
those glassy doors,
is where I
was nearly brained
by a crane
the arm bending,
with tons of shoring
crashing down
exactly on the spot
I just leapt from
into the deep mud
the now flattened


That’s when
I decided to
take the test,
and go to college,
unless my lottery number
was too low, or, maybe
I was too stupid.

Vietnam scared me
as much as
that entrance exam.
It was here,
in this hospital,
where my Grandpa died,
one of the toughest,
skinniest sunzabitches
on the planet,
and where my Mother     
nearly died, like,
a half dozen times…
‘cept for medicare
and greedy doctors.

They didn’t care
that she was against
all that socialized medicine.

nobody’s against it
when they’re sick…
and poor.

She died alone
in the night
beyond that field,
at the poor folk’s home
where Dad passed
a few years earlier.

In 1969, that field
was a corn field,
back when my folks
were still hoping,
and praying,
I’d stop dating
Miss Wisconsin,
that Catholic girl,
and go to Bible college.

Grandpa, Mum, and Dad,
are all buried now
beyond my busted
a quarter mile from here,
on Oak Hill,
near the river,
Civil War soldiers,
and my little sister
who’d been murdered
by a Milwaukee doctor
with dirty tools,
just like Antiedom.

I was off at college then,
the sunzabitches.

People dropped like flies
in those days.

DS 010319
ęDan Senn 2019