Catholic Girl Ghazal by Rachel Burns

Welcome to the second of thirteen wonderful weeks in the company of poems selected by guest editor Jess Green, who says of this ghazal “The traditional structure of Catholic Girl Ghazal sits brilliantly alongside the references to Madonna both in pop culture and religion. The repetition creates a musicality which is echoed in the reference to the song at the end. The youthful cheekiness of the language is powerful beside the theme and narrative of religion.”

Catholic Girl Ghazal

Gotta love us Catholic girls, worshipping Madonna, singing Madonna
songs, mimicking her dress, the short crop sexy tops, just like Madonna.

We are good Catholic girls, dare to bare our navel girls, chewing Wrigley’s gum 
hoops in our ears, crucifixes swinging from our necks, sexy like Madonna.

Look, now we’re meeting up with bad boys, don’t go to Mass boys, 
sexy boys with fast cars, who tell us we look pretty, just like Madonna.

At Sunday Mass we break bread and sing hallelujah! Hallelujah! until we burst.
The Virgin Mary holds out her hand to us, Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Madonna,

The Immaculate Conception, she holds out her hand. She sees our bangled arms
dripping with sin, she knows where we have been, does Madonna.

One by one, we all succumb to temptation, yet another teenage pregnancy
and the Catholic Church spits us out, slams the altar door, even Madonna’s

smile turns into a scowl, we have brought shame on our families, 
we are thrown like dogs into the street, a broken, fallen Madonna

and my friends say, Rachel, give it up, you’re too young. I listen to Madonna
sing her silly pop song, Papa don’t Preach, and I laugh, but I keep my baby.

Rachel Burns

This poem was first published Poetry School website, Primers Four shortlist. Rachel Burns lives in Durham City. Her poetry has appeared recently in Crannog, Poetry Salzburg Review, Algebra of Owls and Ink, Sweat and Tears and Under the Radar. She has a poetry pamphlet forthcoming with Vane Women Press.

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