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August 15, 2021


I'm laughing out loud. Thank you for this wonderful narrative poem. I think about the 10 Commandments a lot, or about one in particular, which, when I learned the Commandments, was "Thou shalt not kill." Now I see many bibles have it as "Thou shalt not murder." I take that as meaning that killing is okay in certain instances like war. And I am really sorry for that. I shouldn't have gotten serious, because your poem, Ann Bracken, is a delight.

Oh is there anything sweeter or dearer than the innocence in this poem. Those nuns made poets out of us since surreality was the reality taught us.

Ann is a favorite poet of mine.

I love her all the more because her work in life is in service--that makes up for all that adultery she committed playing dress-ups.

Perfect poem - I love it! : )

Love this poem and the wonderful description of childhood innocence.

Very funny and very sad, too.

Yes, very funny and a little sad. Pertmit me two jokes. 1) the idea of renaming the tablets "The Ten Suggestions," and 2) Moses comes back a fourth time from the top of Mt Sinai. There's good news and bad. The good news is God loves you. The bad news is the ban on adultery is still in there.
Also, I agree with Anne. It is and should alkways be "Thou shalt not kill."

This is one of my favorite bracken poems And Ann is one of my favorite poets!

What a delightful piece of childhood logic this poem presents! I don't recall that being a problem of mine. I had enough trouble with the rule "You mustn't touch yourself." No less wonderful (and perhaps to many, shocking) is the photo, with Jesus wearing Orthodox Jewish sidelocks and holding the hand of the woman caught in adultery.

I really like the turn inward halfway through, the meditation there a blend of what both the child and adult-speaker conceive, and then the great return to the clean narrative line the hilarious confession, finishing with its great ironic punch at the very end.

The last 10 lines, Fr. Riley's sigh, so sweetly and beautifully embrace all the innocence, vulnerability and mysterious hopelessness of childhood, and as Virginia Woolf put it, the 'long-legged monsters' we become.

This is such a delightful poem and one of my favorites for sure.
And Ann is an exquisite poet whom I adore!

Lovely rich memory, beautifully recorded. Boy and girl Catholics, we've all been there": and such a healthy laugh to end it.

What a wonderful poem! I love your work!

Such a perfect example of a child's misunderstanding (that stands uncorrected by the priest) and a vivid picture of the confessional in this poem, Ann! Leads me to wonder if you ever played dress-up again! I love the lines, "The murmur of transgressions like incense fill the air."

This is marvelous. Like Ann, I grew up in a pretty strict Catholic family. Seems like there was no limit to the ways you could sin, and you just hoped to keep them mostly venial. But you were always upgrading to mortal, hoping you didn’t die and go to hell before Sunday confession. Not a great way to grow up, and a delight to see the lighter side in this poem.

Love this poem, Ann. I remember you reading it in Ellicott City :-)

If you have experienced Parochial School, you can relate to these interactions, both innocent and confusing. I compliment you on a terrific poem that brings a cheerful smile to my face.

Such a sweet and beautifully descriptive poem. One can imagine just how she felt in the classroom and in the church pew— waiting and concerned.

Thanks to everyone who enjoyed and commented on my poem "Adultery." Happy to share a little laugh with all of you!

Ann Bracken nails the RC parochial school mind fog that I grew up with as well! And she does it with grace and humor as only one blessed by the Holy Spirit can! Ah, yeah, I remember being totally confused by why some sins sent you straight to Hell but others had something to do with eating veal scallopini! When I brought this up to Father Fenton (anybody else remember him?) in the confessional , he kicked my sorry little ass out of his dark box! Lucky me, apostate at a tender age! Thanks Ann!

Ann, I recently became interested in your work from your former spouse. I am amazed at and thankful for your resilience and so proud of your work. I enjoyed this poem, the first I have read. I would love to talk to you about life. God Bless you and yours.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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