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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Heads Up poetry column

By Philip Appleman

Seductions as countless as crosses,

as icons, none of it ever

surprising, not even

the stare of the sky

keeping score. The prize for yielding,

for giving in to paradise,

is laying down the awful burden

of mind: surrender

rings from the steeples and calls

from the minarets and temples.

But challenges sing

in the sway of treetops,

in the flutter of sparrows,

in chirring and stalking,

in waking and ripening—let

there be light enough, and

everywhere backbone stiffens

in saplings and clover. Praises, then,

to sunfish and squirrels,

blessings to bugs. Turning our backs

on the bloody altars,

we cherish each other, living here

in this brave world

with our neighbors, the earthworms,

and our old friends, the ferns

and the daisies.