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Sunday, March 24, 2024


by Julie Steiner

“Choir Boys 2” by Christina Clare

“There is no sorrow, pain, or woe…
no suffering He did not know,”
we used to sing. That’s how I knew
the Christ Child was molested, too.

Confused, afraid, and mortified,
He told His mom—who said He lied.
Since mine refused to understand,
I knew He’d known that, too, firsthand.

Each time He said or acted out
what children shouldn’t know about,
she spanked the young Emmanuel
and told Him He was bound for Hell.

That filthy-minded, foul-mouthed kid
reformed, because of what she did.
For decades, she’d congratulate
herself for having laced Him strait.

“I disciplined Him out of it,”
that saint would brag, while He’d just sit—
impassive, passive—and endure
her calling clobbering a cure.

(What “cured” us was we’d moved away
from those who’d made us frequent prey
on seeing no one took our word
for anything we said occurred.)

The current lyrics for that hymn
leave nothing fuzzy, nothing dim,
and nothing to be taken wrong
by snarky teens, who’d say the song

skipped birth pangs, menstrual cramps, and such.
But how I’d sung it was as much
support as victims might derive
back then, for having dared survive.

Let others sing the new, improved,
and ambiguity-removed
text. I can’t. I can’t unknow
the words I needed, long ago.

Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego, California. Besides The New Verse News, the venues in which Julie's poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and The Asses of Parnassus.