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Poem-a-Day: "Makebelieve" by Pádraig Ó Tuama

About this Poem 

“When it comes to ‘Freedom of Religion’, much attention is given to the words freedom and religion. However, the of is also worthy of mention. Religion is free; it is free to query, to make meaning, to break things, to make things up. Religion is—or should be—free to change too, or to wrap itself around the delight and devastation of the human condition. Religion does not only provide a storypoem about the earth’s creation, it also provides a form by which we can create, and recreate, break and makebelieve. We are made of humus, the old texts tell us—we are also made of rot and time; danger and demand. In the beginning was a…what? You tell me.”
Pádraig Ó Tuama

Makebelieve

And on the first day 
god made 
something up. 
Then everything came along: 

seconds, sex and 
beasts and breaths and rabies; 
hunger, healing, 
lust and lust’s rejections; 
swarming things that swarm 
inside the dirt; 
girth and grind 
and grit and shit and all shit’s functions; 
rings inside the treetrunk 
and branches broken by the snow; 
pigs’ hearts and stars, 
mystery, suspense and stingrays; 
insects, blood 
and interests and death; 
eventually, us, 
with all our viruses, laments and curiosities; 
all our songs and made-up stories; 
and our songs about the stories we’ve forgotten; 
and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve forgotten; 

and to hold it all together god made time 
and those rhyming seasons 
that display decay.

Copyright © 2019 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama is the author of Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. He lives in Ireland.

by this poet

poem

It is both a dignity and                                                          
a difficulty
to live between these
names,

perceiving politics
in the syntax of
the state.

And at the end of the day,
the reality is
that whether we
change
or whether we stay

poem

I

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

When I was a child
my parents said that sometimes,
lives are protected
by an undetected
light lie of
deception

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

Now, I am more than twenty five
and I’m alive
because I’ve

poem

It’s funny how things come in
circles.
You, sitting on a step,
smoking a cigarette,
watching leaves fall off a
slowly stripping tree.
Me, hanging photos on a wall,
including one of you
receiving, like a priestess,
your lover’s confession.
Me telling stories of