Robbie Gamble

Litany of the Saints

Joey shared a cigarette.
Carlene raised four boys without yelling at them much.

Sometimes we didn’t have to say anything, we would just sit together.

When her best friend was being bullied by the popular girls, Zena stood up for her.
Herman turned in the money he found.
Albert let all of the bitterness drain out of his heart.

The neighborhood was getting rough. We cleaned up the empty lots. Planted flowers, yes, flowers. And sat out to make sure the kids stayed out of trouble.

Josephine got out of debt.
Vladek got sober.
Ibrahim walked his girls to school every day.

There was smoke everywhere, and we were scared, but we pounded on all the doors to make sure that everyone got out.

Nguyen survived the crossing and started a family.

There were so many coming into the city to escape the repression, what could we do? We banded together and started soup kitchens.

Carmen covered her girlfriend’s shifts during the chemo treatments.
Jurgen wouldn’t carry a gun, so he became a stretcher-bearer.
Jess always smiled.

For the first time in years, we could sleep through the night.

Dontae shoveled his neighbor’s walk.
Emile gave away an inheritance.
Mitzi read to her daughter.

In the evening cool, we would walk up the hill behind the town, sit down there and look out over the land. And just feel grateful.

Evan held his husband’s hand and gave him permission to let go.