Claire Scott

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On the Edge of Faith

A limping Jesus
wordless on a white road
beaten and bleeding
this time with fists
flailing in fury
this time no cross, no cave
no crown of thorns
only a cardboard box
a begging cup
only a ragged figure
in a filthy coat

I am tired
of wandering in a desert
of empty plinths
a constant rumbling
in my malnourished soul
yet I still can’t swallow the story
of the fisher of men
I still can’t believe he walked
on water, cured the blind
but I toss a few coins in the cup
just in case

Jesus the holiest of fools
back for another round
on the streets of Oakland
turning water into wine
casting out demons of despair
raising the fentanyl dead
and multiplying loaves
to feed the unhoused
for the next sandaled century
tell me, how can we look away
from a face filled with such love


Scherezade at the Doctor’s

The doctor opens her laptop and frowns
once upon a time I begin
my six-year-old son snuck
Double Stuffed Oreos at night
leaving crumbs all over his bed
he couldn’t figure out how I knew
she returns to her screen
so very sorry she says, looking down
my mother threw noodles against
the walls to see if they were done
hid scotch in shampoo bottles
stumbled down to dinner

She leans over to show me the MRI
starts to explain the shadow
my daughter went to school
wearing muddles of my make up
along with a pair of stiletto heels
the teacher made me come get her
didn’t think it was amusing
the doctor smiles and closes her laptop
wanting me to continue
I ask her to join me for lunch
where I will tell more stories
to still the future


Leaden Laurels

I won the third-grade spelling bee
with supremacy
was first on the math test
use the fewest bills and coins
            to make $14.46
My science project was voted the best
          flowers in vinegar to show
           the effect of acid rain

Miss Swenson said I would go far
perhaps the first woman president
or the winner of a Nobel Prize

She didn’t know what it was like
in my shades down house
that my mother mostly
sipped scotch in a dark room
that my father turned away
too much for him to manage
she didn’t know I tossed all night
tortured by dreams of failure
she didn’t know because
I never told

I take pink pills to sleep
along with five green gummies
I rarely leave the house
bless the gods of Door Dash
and Amazon who keep me alive
and BevMo! who brings me scotch
at night so the neighbors don’t see
hardly presidential material
not likely to win a Nobel Prize
but I sleep well at night


Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned

Confession is like a witness protection program
only you don’t have to pack up your family and leave town
you don’t have to change your name and invent a new life
(although it might be nice to start again
where no one knows you ogle bikinied teens and spend
untold hours at the Tangerine Tap Room)
simply a few Hail Mary’s, a few skipped meals,
and voila! you’re done
your soul scrubbed clean
ready for a night on the town
or a minor pilfering from the register at Starbucks
where they pay sub-sub-subsistence wages
ready to skip tips on your tax return and rage at your son
for making Alka-Seltzer rockets in your living room
ready to sneak out for Friday night poker
the taste of lies on your tongue
before you go see Father Nicolas again
looking for a reset, a fresh start, so Saint Peter
will find your name on his A list
marked with five gold stars


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.