Rictus Victory

Old black and white line drawing of Dancing skeletons, called 'Dance of Death'

Rictus Victory
by Suzanne DeWitt Hall

Our church voted yesterday
to accept the resignation
of its young pastor
a gay firebrand
irritant bringer of “others”
inadequately obsequious
to the spirits of those
who’d come before.

The back pews clapped
When the vote announced
it was finished.
Skeletal hands clacking
smiles stretching wide
in rictus victory.

His time in that stone sepulcher is over
and he is gone
as are we; the queer couple
the musician dad
the single black mother and her three kids
the Moms Demand Action rep
the planter of a community garden
the tireless doer of deeds who kept the place running
the “others.”

The bones in the back pews clapped
as we wept for lost hope
for the broken world
for the pastor
for ourselves.

The bones clapped
for next Sunday
when they will hobble in
to find us gone
and they will dance
their skeletal dances
that the skin of their hands
is a mirage.

Happy to be alone
to chatter and clatter
their death dance
as the dust gathers
and the doors clang shut
leaving them to join the ghosts
who wait
and shriek
that they have won.


  1. Everything about this makes me sad. I stayed away from "church" for two years, I had grown so weary of the "drama." I began attending Grace in mid/late August and at first thought, wow I love this. Then I soon realized what was going on around me and grew tentatively frightened, but tried not to run. I almost didn't go yesterday. I'm still not sure if I'm glad I did, or wish I didn't. The applause really threw me too. I'm just so tired of people. :(

  2. Sad but true. Very well versed Diane. I love you my sister in Christ. (M.Whitfield)

  3. It is beautifully written and yet the pain, tears and heartache behind it. Thinking deeply of all those who are hurting at this time... xx

  4. This is an exceptional piece of writing.

  5. It is beautifully written about such an unfortunate and hurtful act that is so shortsighted. I've had the pathogenic people come after me from time to time. Fortunately, I've survived most of them. But, oh, they can be so hurtful. I'm sorry this has happened to someone who seems to have been so good at reaching out to people who have not been included.


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