He stood most of the day —
hands in his pockets, leaning
on a lamp post — watching
those that came and went
from the church.

Looking for…signs;
haloes on worshipers
or angels on the ramparts
of a building he had
thought of as more hollow
than hallowed.

The shadows were long
before he began a
shuffle-step towards
the door, wondering with
each stumble if he could
shoulder the burden
of forgiveness.

Church doors

Church doors (Photo credit: slack12)







De of WhimsyGizmo fame is standing in this
week for Shawna with Poetic Words



Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

25 responses to “Burdens

  1. I never looked at forgiveness in those terms, but you have made me think. I had expected the burden to be lifted.

  2. I really enjoyed this. It really has depth.

  3. Excellent spill of words, Mark. This line is particularly poignant, and powerful as (heaven and) hell:
    “wondering with
    each stumble if he could
    shoulder the burden
    of forgiveness.”

    Oh, my. YES.

  4. See, you’ve given me chills and told an actual story. Very clear, crisp, and easy for anyone to identify with. I cannot, no matter the effort, pull this off. I am always impressed with your ability to tell a strong story, and in so few words!

    And your endings always get me; you know just how to add that little bit of extra punch to make the reader stumble mentally: “if he could shoulder the burden of forgiveness” … Like I said, this leaves me with chills. Sometimes punishing yourself and carrying guilt is easier than accepting forgiveness.

    Excellent word play: “more hollow than hallowed”

    I love the pause you created here: “Looking for…signs.” And also the the sound of “wondering” and “stumble” so close together.

    Great job, Mark. 🙂

  5. hedgewitch

    The heaviest burden I think there is–you give it real physical dimensions here and the weight rests uneasy. All too often it’s easier to turn your back and not pick it up, but that’s like crossing Death Valley and throwing away your canteen. A vivid write, made more so by it’s (deceptively) simple declarative language.

  6. Hmm surely makes one think, not such as easy a task as some may think sometimes either, as it takes much strength to forgive some.

  7. forgiveness as a burden. Hmmm. Makes me thing. Good poem.

  8. This touches both the philosophical and theological, depending on the strength of your beliefs. My mother-in-law, a devout Christian woman, always said if you were truly sorry in your heart and prayed for forgiveness, you would be forgiven. So…does forgiveness come from inside the building, or inside ourselves? A very thoughtful and well written piece, Mark.

  9. A poignant impact on someone with conscience of the faithful. He reacted positively on things that appear normal to others. Nice write Mark!


  10. forgiveness is a hard thing…esp in forgiving ourselves….and being willing to let ourselves live as if we are forgiven…and we dont always see it in the face of those that enter those doors….

  11. oh, this is a perfect poem… i love the ending. a burden that is oh so difficult to shoulder.

  12. shoulder the burden
    of forgiveness….a thought provoking poem. Nicely penned.

  13. I can feel the emotional wait as the narrator struggles to forgive, a contrast between the belief on the need to forgive with the natural emotional force that doesn’t want to.

    A bird was in a cage
    With a song of pain;
    There came a time
    When it could not sing
    And its voice will not return
    Until once more
    It lives in open sky.

  14. Wow. I really like this piece. I think you nailed it.

  15. Many layers of burdens I noticed in this…it seemed to get deeper as he struggled with whether to enter those doors or not..

  16. Forgiveness or lack thereof is definitely a burden. Lovely

  17. Laurie Kolp

    I’m glad he mustered up the strength to go in. I especially like:

    Looking for…signs;
    haloes on worshipers
    or angels on the ramparts
    of a building he had
    thought of as more hollow
    than hallowed.

  18. Forgiveness and need to be forgiven. The opening here reminded of a homeless person. There is a lot of depth to this, Mark.


  19. More truth in this than most realize. Excellent write, Mark. Vivid and a good message, too.

  20. Uneven Stephen

    Wow, this poem says so much. Very succinct. This bit really speaks to me: “a building he had
    thought of as more hollow
    than hallowed.”

  21. I think many of us wait around, watching for “signs”. Most don’t consider that forgiveness might mean giving up the self-cannibalizing delight of guilt. You packed all that into this terse yet layered poem. Well done.

  22. your poetry often inspires me to write more of my own…thank you.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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