Humanist Voices in Verse: Losing Jerusalem

This week’s poem is by Cynthia Todd Quam. She received an MFA in poetry from Bennington College.  She is the author of the chapbook The Letter Q, and her work has appeared in a number of literary journals including After Hours, Columbia Poetry Review and No Roses Review, as well as in The Chicago Tribune.  She is a freelance writer/editor residing in the Chicago area. She is also a founding member and current leader of End of the Line Humanists, an AHA Chapter near west suburban Chicago.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.


Losing Jerusalem

One day is reason; the next is god.

All night the pharisees
swing their caged doves above my bed,
chant low runic letters,
burn a saffron path through my sleep
where there is no sandaled savior,
no fig tree, no sun

and I must upset for myself
the tables outside the temple,
and send what is Caesar’s
to clatter across the stones.

The sky leans in, devoid of trumpets,
the city walls a leper chronicle of days,
raw meridian wailing at the wrong door.

Threading through the needle’s eye,
I gain the living desert beyond,
my passage cast by nebula,
then the certain stars;
the light that has traveled to reach me
its own kind of king.

Cynthia Todd Quam