The Great Reset has rocked the world—
What untold evil has unfurled!
Unshakable foundations crumble.
Through the rubble, nations stumble.

Who is not shaken to the core
By all that was and is no more?
Ashless Wednesday came and went,
Virtually I did repent.

I sought myself in the surround,
But I was nowhere to be found.
Blinded now, I look within—
Complacency my glaring sin.

Alone amidst the walking dead,
A vacancy on my forehead.



Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.

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12 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    “1350 Miserable, wild, distracted 1350
    The dregs of the mob alone survive to witness”

    The above is graffiti on a wall inside St Mary’s Church, Ashwell (Hertfordshire, England), a village where worked for a year. The words refer to the aftermath of the Black Death. Your poem left me with a similar vibe, Joe.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    The utter gutlessness of the Catholic hierarchy in kowtowing to government demands that ashes not be distributed on Ash Wednesday parallels the supine cowardice of most of the English bishops who bowed to Henry VIII’s heretical demands back in the sixteenth century.

  3. Gail

    Joe, your character shows itself in your work. Your poems are neither devices nor diversions. The content is substantive and honest, and so, I imagine, are you. So, I liked it.

  4. Chtistopher Flint

    And yet, in missing stares, I find
    that ashless Grace has crossed my mind.

  5. Margaret Coats

    Best of protest poems, Joe! It deserves to last longer than the graffiti Paul Freeman tells us about. Ash Wednesday isn’t just for Catholics, as anyone of any religion or none should have been able to receive ashes today. It is always the greatest day of the year for visible evidence of return to God, both in packed churches, and everywhere ashes are carried on foreheads throughout the day, to meet the wondering stares of the world that Christopher Flint mentions in his extempore couplet. I actually received some smiles today as I went into a store with ashes on my forehead on my way home from Mass. Lent is only beginning; it’s here for us to overcome our fears and make the best possible use of it.

  6. Joe Tessitore

    I think that I’ve worn myself out living the lie and trying to fly under the radar.
    Mrs. T and I are thinking about Florida. If we do decide to go, hopefully we’ll get there before they wall it off from the rest of the country.

    • Margaret Coats

      You and Mrs. T and the state of Florida would benefit mutually. Blessings on your decision from a Florida native!

    • Gail

      Did you know that Florida is one of the states that allows folks living the RV lifestyle to establish residence by having a P.O. Box? Some friends who wearied of Portlandia hit the road and never looked back. They actually spend most of their time in N. C. You could live all kinds of places . . . it might be fun.

    • Panagiota Romios

      Joe~ Going to Florida is a sane idea. One can be fully human there. Being a resident of California, I feel like a resident of China. With Biden…who knows what’s next. I, also, missed the ashes….

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Joe, your poem will resonate with many. Sadly, the weather prevented the church I work for from having their Ash Wednesday service, but services are no longer the same with the virus restrictions. Our pastor was concerned about the touching of the forehead aspect of Ash Wednesday… how sad! Your closing couplet slices straight to the rotten core of current times and hangs heavy in my heart… the sign of an excellent poem.

    I am glad you and Mrs. T. are looking to the future and thinking of moving to the sunshine state. You will both bring an extra ray of sunshine to a state that is proud to revel in the remaining vestiges of lawfulness and common sense.

  8. Mo

    Many folks are of the same or similar mindset, Joe. Thanks for being out there. We need that connection of camaraderie. Thank you.


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