Three poems by Steve Kissing


The professor spoke of Kierkegaard,
How all true believers
Must leap from the sandy
Footing of uncertainty
To the solid terra firma of faith.
But all I could think about was:
What’s below those who jump?
A deep crevasse
With fear and doubt
Oozing noxious gases?
Or must the faithful leap
Over something?
A stack of bibles?
Razor wire? A starving child?
Are there consolation prizes
For those who don’t make it, perhaps
A certificate of merit suitable for framing?
Or a donut and a chance to try again?
And is faith more rewarding
For those who execute a mid-air
Somersault, or keep their eyes open?
And once on the bedrock, can you
Leap back and secure a lucrative
Sneaker sponsorship and leap again?
Might it be possible to believe yet prefer
The squishy ground of agnosticism
Where it’s more comfortable to sit
And ponder all the angels
Dancing on the knuckles
Of your folded hands —
And why they aren’t doing
Anything to end the war.


The rectory where I worked as a high school
Student had many stained glass windows
That cast patches of colored light onto the walls,
The floors, holy knick-knacks — virtually everything.
On sunny days, I liked to stand in the hallways,
Eyes closed, and feel the warm red, yellow
And blue light on my arms, hands and face.
I believed that that light — having passed through
Holy imagery: saints, doves and tongues of fire —
Had the power to purify me of any diseases
Lurking in my DNA, and to strengthen me spiritually,
Particularly as weekends approached and temptation
In the form of pretty girls and beer bottles
Prepared, yet again, to ambush me.


The corner evangelical held out pamphlets
While he waved a Bible above his head
And shouted something about hate
And love, fire and forgiveness.
I took one of his tracts, mumbled “Thanks,”
and kept walking — quickly.
The cover of the pamphlet asked:
Are you going to heaven or hell?
I didn’t have a clue.
Truth is, I was more concerned
In that moment about what
To have for dinner: Indian or Chinese?
I chose Indian with conviction —
As if everything was riding on it —
And hoped that Jesus was pleased
With my decision.


Steve Kissing used to be possessed by the devil. At least that’s what he believed as a child, and he wrote about it in his memoir, RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL (Crossroad Books). His stories and poems have appeared (or soon will) in such print and online journals as: THICK WITH CONVICTION, BEST POEM, POETRY FRIENDS, BOSTON LITERARY MAGAZINE, BOLTS OF SILK, BREADCRUMB SCABS, BULL and PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW. Kissing’s first chapbook, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST (Big Table Publishing), was published in the fall of 2009. Steve is no longer possessed by the devil. Or so he believes. He can be reached at


2 Responses to “Steve Kissing: Three Poems”

  1. Patricia Says:

    Thanks for the trip back to those days as a boarder in a Catholic institution. Lots of imponderables presented and many still survive decades later. Thanks again, Peter

  2. […] Kissing published three poems with us. More recently, he published One Per Customer (second story on the page) in Flash: The […]

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