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‘Catholic Girl Ghazal’ by Rachel Burns – Primers Shortlist 2018

Catholic Girl Ghazal

Gotta love us Catholic girls, worshipping Madonna, singing Madonna
mimicking her dress, the crop short sexy tops, just like Madonna.

We are good Catholic girls, dare to bare our navel girls, chewing Wrigley’s gum
hoops in our ears, crucifixes swinging from our necks, sexy like Madonna.

Look, now we’re meeting up with bad boys, don’t go to Mass boys,
sexy boys with fast cars, who tell us we look pretty just like Madonna.

At Sunday Mass we break bread, and sing Hallelujah! Hallelujah! until we burst.
The Virgin Mary holds out her hand to us, Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Madonna,

The Immaculate Conception, she holds out her hand. She sees our bangled arms
dripping with sin, she knows where we have been, does Madonna.

One by one, we all succumb to temptation, yet another teenage pregnancy
and the Catholic Church spits us out, slams the altar door, even Madonna’s

smile turns into a scowl, we have brought shame on our families,
we are thrown like dogs into the street, a broken fallen Madonna

and my friends say, Rachel, give it up, you’re too young. I listen to Madonna
sing her silly pop song, Papa don’t Preach and I laugh, but I keep my baby.


Rachel Burns is on the ten-person shortlist for Primers Volume Four. ‘Catholic Girl Ghazal’ is the title poem of her shortlisted manuscript. We’ll be showcasing the work of all the shortlisted writers over the next two weeks, so check back to read more poems.

Rachel Burns is a poet and playwright from Durham City. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines, recently in The Fenland Reed, Head Stuff, South Bank Poetry, Marble Poetry and A Restricted View from Under the Hedge.

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