The new priest was a German refugee
who (or so he said) was tortured
with hot oily rags leaving him
with facial scars and a tic.
He was younger than the others,
so he got the more demanding assignments —
after-school gym and handling the altar boys.

I was a shy boy who collected stamps.
My father smoked cigars, so I had lots
of fragrant boxes for loose stamps.
When I became an altar boy,
I had terrifying dreams of the stamp
piles growing larger and multiplying.
I was being buried alive,

choking on the taste of glue.
Because of my nightmares,
my parents took my stamps away
so I spent more time in the gym.