I was a Catholic schoolboy helping out
with some fundraising event in the priest residence,
where I put on a tie and played waiter
for people who wanted to be closer to God.
I took the kitchen trash to the dumpsters out back
and caught Father Cronin
taking a smoke break from the obligatory righteousness.
He offered me a sermon: “You’re stronger than me, lad.”
Then he put out his smoke with his shoe
like everyone else, left the butt on the asphalt
among the others, and walked away looking at me,
his index finger making a cross with his lips.
Michael Bartelt was born in Pasadena, CA. He is a high school English teacher and basketball coach who makes poems. His work has most recently been published in Coup d'etat (Boston University Literary Society) and is forthcoming in The Offbeat (Michigan State University). His debut chapbook Poems for the Future President was published in 2014 by Four Chambers Press.