“Mission Hall”

Walking down along Charles Street

A shallow canyon of shuttered shops

Seeking traces of the Pioneer Store

And the anonymous side door

Of  Pastor Gardner’s

Fig Tree Gospel Hall


The ‘beloved’ enter through a porch

Crammed with bin bags spilling

Sweet sweat rancid jumble sale stock,

Free for all until the rag man comes.


The usher, a farmer

Sentries the inside door

Placed to block intruders

And the exit for backsliders

When the preaching got hot.

Standing beside a dust and varnish table

Stacked high with Authorised Bibles

He shakes every hand as he deals out missals

Well thumbed Redemption Hymnals

His banana thick fingers

Crushing the knuckles of unwary first timers.


A smattering of sisters in white knit hats

Sensible shoes with two inch heels

And coats and scarves against the chill

Dots the rows of wooden chairs

Unaware of the glancing stares of

Blue suited brothers wearing Burton’s best,

V neck jumpers from B.H.S.

And terylene ties noosed tight round button down necks.


As the Spirit moves among and melts the hearts of

His dwindling flock of ‘peculiars’

The chapel fills with breathy “Glory… Hallelujahs!”


Pastor breaks the spell with a “Testimony!” call

A pair of flares and leather sandals

Crumpled shirt and unkempt hair

Rises, shuffles to the front

Shame faced at first but

Spurred by expleted, “Praise the Lords!”

He tells of salacious debauchery

“Till Jesus came and rescued me.”


The pianist flexes knuckles and hits the keys

Gideon Gardner beams contentedly as

A dozen reedy voices in need of

“A thousand tongues to sing”

Their great redeemer’s praise are raised.


Pastor takes his tambourine off its peg

Beating demons from his trouser legs.

A rococo glissando trills into

“When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”

Someone segues, “If you’re happy and you know it…”


Hands clap, feet stamp,

The floorboards bounce

The damp walls shake.


The ‘Beer Off’ proprietor next door

Looks at his wife and sighs.

© coolhermit 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Sir Hermit of Cool, verily a sound visual depiction of a run down church and evangelical gusto. Works well when read aloud with the only niggle being the repeat of ‘hall’ PS I am that off-licence man! Mitch


Yeah, I am in the process of learning to perform my own music live at 59 – no easy thing! The punters do like a chorus they can snigger along to! The rewrite is cool but I would have left the ‘beating out the demons on his thighs’ – as it hints neatly at his sordid past.


Much better indeed. But – and please don’t kill me for this – is Gideon the book or the pastor? That confused me in the last 3 stanzas. Otherwise when read aloud, I think you’ve nailed it with the cadences in just the right places – I love a rococo glissando too. Last time, I was almost arrested.

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