Mass By Ted Morrissey


You and your brother were Catholic School boys, 
which meant daily mass—in the ways of the 
Romans, who crucified Christ. You didn’t care  
for the sixties’ reforms, the new rituals felt 
cold and common, the Body and Blood re- 
duced to mere wafer and wine. You missed the 
magical Latin as Father intoned the Mystery  
and you carefully incanted in enigmatic kind. 
The hospital’s chaplain, visiting from Africa, 
recited in his high-rounded Rwandan lilt: 
last rites for you and the cancer in your brain,  
for the mass that had colonized every organ,  
like a crusading religion on the march, hell- 
bent on spreading the Word everywhere. 

Ted Morrissey’s “Mass” is part of his Laertes Sequence, sonnets composed in apostrophe to his father. He has had other sonnets appear or are forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, the tiny journal, Prime Number Magazine, Haunted Waters Press, and Edifying Fiction. Most of his creative focus has been on fiction, especially the novel, and recent ones are Mrs. Saville (Manhattan Book Award) and Crowsong for the Stricken (International Book Award and American Fiction Award). A new novel, The Artist Spoke, is coming out this fall, and an abbreviated story collection, First Kings and Other Stories, should be available in December.

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