Poetry By Raymond P. Hammond

Poetry By Raymond P. Hammond

By Raymond P. Hammond


what remains of our religions

if we deny the divinely  

whispered texts miraculously,

amazingly, without question

transcribed by self-ordained prophets 

who somehow solely alone 

could hear the murmurs of gods


what remains of our religions

if man-made dogma didn’t

matter, if it were not about

exclusion, or nationalism,

or walls, or being good or bad,

right or wrong, tradition and pomp,

and self-righteous indignation


what remains of our religions

if the political preachers

and money-grubbing ministers 

who terrorize their own flocks

into giving and believing 

what if they spontaneously

combusted before our eyes


releasing all of us to think 

for ourselves, maybe, just maybe

what remains is a deep, dark

abyss, a black hole so deep

that when all religion is lost

we find our own singular self


maybe, just maybe we find faith



Original Sin

Look at the soot on the white background

See how it shades and shadows

Curling and straightening; leaping and lineating

Drawing the eyes down down down down

Into a look inside view of oneself 

Where the particles of each past sin

Loom large in the landscape of the soul


Trying not to exhale, you cough and expel

Forcefully from your tightened tense lips

A blasting ball of air that you think 

Would be perfect for playing the flute


And that is what you decide it is

Beautiful music that blends

All of the soot of sin into one black background





the word used by medieval friars

that makes my Christian mother cringe

every damn time she hears it

in a movie or on TV

Even if it is the hero, 

he or she automatically 

is more evil than the bad guy

all because they said the word fuck

but the bad person, the one who 

always is straight-laced and tight-lipped

and never utters the word fuck 

despite existing solely to 

destroy all of humanity—

I swear that she likes them better


Does anyone die from a fuck?

I hope so, but benign phrases  

like “I give a fuck” or “fuck, yeah”

are expletives without malice

it is only evil in your

ear, it is only your belief

that is what transforms them to bad


And your belief that your belief 

supersedes all of the other

beliefs only serves to create 

war and exclusion and control

and fear and death and worst of all 

a word to hide behind when one 

is self-righteous or indignant

or ignorant or just plain dumb

like creationists or climate

deniers or the flat-earthers 

or anyone else who holds simple 

myths to be truths above science

so let’s ban together to ban

utterance of the word belief 

because it is far dirtier, 

filthier, heinous, murderous,

universal a word than fuck

then we can identify 

truly identify the bad 

people in the movie, the ones

who harm rather than help

who divide rather than unite

who religiously sanctify 

the profane while demonizing

profanity, to those of you

that have it all butt-ass backwards:


Believe you, mother-believers

Before you all believe the world to hell.

Raymond P. Hammond is the editor-in-chief of both The New York Quarterly and NYQ Books. He holds an MA in English Literature from New York University and is the author of Poetic Amusement, a book of literary criticism. He lives near Scranton, PA with his wife, the poet Amanda J. Bradley, and their dog Hank.



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