Sister Irmalene,

appointed to rule the sacristy

when Sister Leonella died

after a thirty-year reign,

issued a proclamation

that all stipends paid to altar boys

for weddings and funerals

be deemed the property

of Guardian Angels Church

and promptly remitted to her,

i.e., as soon as possible

after the rice celebration

or following internment.


Failure to comply would result

in immediate discharge from the ranks

of the Knights of the Altar.


Rather than be fired

I enlisted at a young age

in the capitalist brigades.

I quit.


All that day after my last funeral

I savored the alloy and heft

of the fifty cent piece

concealed in the right pocket

of my corduroy uniform.


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