St. Mary’s – a poem by Dan Campion

St. Mary’s
When Flannery O’Connor sat in church
she sometimes thought about the captive bear
across the river in his little cage
inside the kiddie zoo in City Park.
His being there where children stopped to stare
in mirth or pity must fill out a page
that needed filling. Still, one had to search
for words. To cast their beams into the dark.
The proper angle, always hard to gauge,
one hair’s breadth off was certain to besmirch
a certainty essential to the care
of every soul. You had to mind each mark.
A comma out of place might damn this town.
Grant mercy, she thought, eyeing Mary’s crown.

Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, a third edition of which was issued in 2019. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in February 2022. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.


  1. Carl Mayfield says:

    Wonderful poem, no surprise: with Flannery O’Connor in the first line it’s difficult to think of a better beginning. Mr. Campion stoked these embers with grace and wit.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s