Published on Academy of American Poets (

Division Street

                         ". . . Prayer book and Mother, shot themselves last Sunday."
                                        Gwendolyn Brooks

The spire of Holy Name Cathedral rose like a prayer
above Chicago Avenue. I thumbed a leather-bound book
in catechism class, recited the Hail Mary. Fire and
devils blazed at night. The nuns told my mother
I had a calling. On Scott Street a man lay shot
dead in our alley. It was the Gold Coast.  They prided themselves
on sidewalks safe as shrines. I questioned God, the last
to leave the room. Riots flared in Cabrini-Green that Sunday.


Copyright © 2012 by Elise Paschen. Used with permission of the author.


Elise Paschen

Elise Paschen is the author of four poetry collections, most recently The Nightlife (Red Hen Press, 2017). She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. An enrolled member of the Osage Nation, Paschen lives in Chicago.

Date Published: 2012-08-02

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