Green Hills Literary Lantern

Sedona Chapel



The beautiful church

is perched high atop a red rock cliff

gazing across an open valley

so that people in prayer

can gaze upon nature and reflect.

Of course, it was designed long before

subdivisions and miniature Mcmansions

filled the valley floor below.


I kneel in the chapel pews

while the people come and go

some of them speaking of Michealangelo

but most mentioning their favorite television shows.

I find it hard to pray

or deeply contemplate

as another tour bus unloads

and the tiny private chapel

becomes packed.


So I rise and go to the gift shop

which is unbelievably crowded

as if this center of commerce

is where the real worship takes place.

On a spinning metal rack

little action figures of the saints

are for sale.

There is St. George battling dragons,

St. Francis speaking to the birds,

and St. Patrick all dressed in green

like a comic book super hero.

There are lots of action figures of all the saints

except for Saint Peregrine,

whom I have never heard of before

but his shelf is all empty

except for one tiny, lonely doll

and as I examine it,

the description says,

“Patron saint of cancer patients.”

 I stare at the empty shelf,

go back upstairs to the chapel and pray.  


Gary Every's work has appeared in Chiron Review, South Carolina Review, Main Street Rag, First Class, Blue Mesa Review, The Temple, and many others. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and appeared in three straight Rhysling anthologies for best science fiction poem of the year. He is the author of four chapbooks and last year his article about the Apache naichee ceremony took the Arizona Newspaper Association's first prize for lifestyle features.