By: David Starkey




In Yellow Springs, Ohio,

I stood at the campus gates

calling out, Fraud! Apostate!


Nevertheless, the grizzled chief

of security offered me a sandwich

and a business card from a local clergyman.


Then he asked me for a prayer.




Bob Jones University Museum


In the Old Master Collection,

the Italian Mannerist paintings

near me seemed suffused

with an ethereal glow,

which clearly diminished

when I left the room

and just as plainly

became more radiant

upon my reentering the gallery.




Bethlehem, PA


Whilst playing the role of Melchior

in the annual Live Nativity Pageant,

I crossed paths with the donkey,

who stepped on my bathrobe

and pulled my sweatpants to the ground.

My underwear that day was golden-hued,

although I would have sworn

on a stack of Bibles that very morning

I had dressed in red.




Exaltation of the Holy Cross


It was a pleasant September morning

in Elizabeth, New Jersey,

when I drove to the Home Depot

to buy a pair of two-by-fours.


I nailed them together and surprised

even Father Aleksander with my initiative.


Afterwards, several members of the assembly

suggested the Offertory Verses were sung

with special gusto in honor of my rough offering.

David Starkey served as Santa Barbara’s 2009-2011 Poet Laureate and is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College. His poetry has appeared in many journals and in seven full-length collections, most recently Like a Soprano (Serving House, 2014), an episode-by-episode revisioning of The Sopranos television series. His textbook, Four Genres in Brief (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017), is in its third edition.