Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bl. Angela of Foligno (patron of those afflicted by sexual temptation, widows)

it grows inside like a barnacle

clinging to the side of your ship

in lustrous green, the lusty mint

of age. after death, this is a thick

mistake, a bedroom in which to pull

the curtains, writhe instead of sleep.

know your sin and call it by name.

invite him over in the night, kiss

his neck as if it were a planet

out of orbit. it is a star that blisters

your lips, cries when punctured

with a pin.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

St. Gabriel Possenti (patron of students, youth, clerics, and seminarians)

this mirror is salt to your


a woman questioning

why do you still remain

in the world?

to cough blossoms

into light, to see red

and know that it means


but love. to dodge

a bullet to live

that much longer.

Friday, February 26, 2010

St. Alexander of Alexandria

they say he was

a man held in the highest

honor by the people and the clergy magnificent

liberal, eloquent, just, a lover of God and

man, devoted to the poor, good and sweet

to all, so mortified

that he never broke his fast

while the sun was in the heavens.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

St. Walpurga (patron of those who have rabies)

the dawn runs its tongue

along the back of my neck,

melts it like sugar, licks the sweat

off of my body as if it were


tell the story to the corn wound

tight like a dainty waist. it listens.

grain mother,

help those whose mouths are full of

foam, as if the ocean is leaping up

and out.

this is the end of winter. burn those

who curl their chapped lips

around the dawn.

give us oil from stone.

we are pilgrims,

fires full of stars.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sts. Montanus, Luicus, & Companions (beheaded with five other martyrs, 259)

clean cut. the eyes

roll. what I think about

when I think about


do the veins, shell

shocked, hold the blood

for a moment? stutter

and then flow? does

the spine reach out,

cry out? the tongue

must bite itself,

filling the mouth

with a lush velvet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

St. Polycarp (patron against earaches and dysentery)

keep the fire at arm’s length.

this ear is a snail that keeps

spiraling. too deep. too much


martyrdom is a window back

to the living. where skin burns

like ants under a magnifying glass.

expect blisters. a lake forms

in your palm, a red balloon

inflates just above the small

of your back.

so much blood can

put out a fire.

Monday, February 22, 2010

St. Margaret of Cortona (against temptations, hoboes, the homeless, insanity, people ridiculed for their piety, reformed prostitutes)

your body was a murder

of crows in the forest. a way

for me to see the end, to look out

over the ledge and find nowhere to go

but up.

a good man’s love. eyes with no

light lie still in their sockets

as if they were stones worn smooth

by the water that never stops


this sadness swells like a grape. loss is

a sunrise. God is someone to fall on.

your hound returns to me, tail wagging

at the door. his claws scrape my world


Sunday, February 21, 2010

St. Peter Damian

if we’d all just rock the cradle of our sex

softly, without worrying whether the floorboards

creak beneath, these mornings wouldn’t be so


before the sheets. before the entanglements of leg

and lip, those toes that curl when kissed. restore it all.

get back to the smooth wail of the body


this next time is the first time. pure as the moons

hidden in your teeth. the milk of your eyes. touch me

as if I don’t know what it means. as if you’re the only one

I’ve ever loved.


Peter Damian, an eleventh-century monastic leader and Church reformer, has received a modest place in the historiography of early medieval philosophy because of his little tract De divina omnipotentia. In this work, Damian treats two questions related to the limits of divine power: can God restore virginity to a woman who has lost it, and, can God change the past?

- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Saturday, February 20, 2010

St. Eucherius of Orleans

see the depths roar out,

set this world ablaze.

not in dreams, or stories,

but pictures that breathe,

wheeze their way

into the night.

open a tomb and find it

empty, the walls

as if a fire licked

the stone black with its

rough cat tongue.

stand in front of a crowd

and announce

you know who’s in hell.

you see them as soon

as you lie down to sleep,

their skeletal fingers

toy with the slope of

your neck, the curls

just along the hairline.

Friday, February 19, 2010

St. Barbatus (patron of Benevento, Italy)

calamities to enter

into themselves

on whom the terrors

of the divine judgment

make very little impression

transient glances

do not lead to

a change of heart

sickness daily


live on in former


and disorders

upon the appearance

of an unusual meteor

a rumor that the city

would be destroyed by fire

from heaven

the inhabitants

were seized

with a panic fear

all began to do penance

and fled

with the emperor

at their head

to a great distance

from the city


*this poem is written using found text while researching Barbatus

Thursday, February 18, 2010

St. Bernadette (patron of sick people, poverty, families, Lourdes)

I heard a promise

from a blue light

to peel these fingers

away from my throat

to let the wind

into my lungs

like unbuttoning

a blouse

to reach


I have never felt

such heat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

St. Alexis Falconieri (patron of Orvieto, Italy)


when something is too deep,

there is terror that leaps

up the throat

like a yellow song

your name echoes back

when you yell down the stairs

that descend to purgatory


escape from home

through passageways

like veins under this city

throbbing with the weight

of holding this all together

keeping the church steeples

from leaning ever so slightly


this double helix

plunges down to the core

to ensure

a remarkable blue

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

St. Juliana (patron of childbirth and sickness)

press your lips to their deep blue

wounds. suck out the sweet

honey of something sick

hot and thick under the skin.

remember the soft sound

it makes as it breaks through.

fall into a swoon. watch

the swell of growing bellies

like full moons rising. this

world is an accidental birth.

what have we named it?

& where did it get those

green eyes?

Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Claude de la Colombiere (confessor to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

carving his name into your chest

is not so much an act of violence,

but a hey, look here! I’ve got ribs

and inside those ribs lies a heart

that’s devoted to you. this is a cry

from your blood to work its way out.

to run red. to be formed into letters

that spell out his name.

afterwards, a stillness.

a paralysis where the mind

wanders fasters than your legs

could ever hope to move. run

towards the light, towards his

figure, floating just above

the earth, just out of my sight.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Valentine (couples, against fainting, happy marriages, love, plague, epileptics)

hair raising and honey smooth,

your voice is a shiver. a rebellion

against this cold. my ears freeze

in the wind. everything hums,

vibrates under my fingertips,

and reminds me of you. listen

to this song. since I can’t hear

out of my right ear, something’s

missing. it could be you, or

the horn section. oh, valentine.

I wish I knew how to talk about

what I want. you’ve got me in

between the devil and the deep

blue sea.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

St. Catherine of Ricci

to wake up in a sea of red,

those clean sheets stained

to cry out in the night

over stigmata

it is impossible to hold

anyone’s hand, to run

your palms down

someone else’s back

to find the perfect warmth

of another, to not leave a

trail in the snow, like a heart

trying to find its way back home

Friday, February 12, 2010

Julian the Hospitaller (patron of boatmen, carnival workers, hunters, clowns, and wandering musicians)

Visions of Julian

carrying a leper through a river

ferryman, hart, holding an oar

man listening to a talking stag

oar, stag, with Jesus & Saint Martha

as patrons of travelers

sword & gloves

well-dressed man holding

a hawk on his finger

young hunter with a stag

young man killing his parents in bed

young man wearing a fur-lined cloak

young man who is nothing

but a legend

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

On a clear night,

it could thunderstorm.

On a clear night,

I saw Mary in my cup

of tea, floating like a lily.

Golden roses leapt out of her eyes.

Light without electricity.

This is an apparition.

This is not my own face,

rippling in the water.

You’ve got me singing the blues

of your elegant draping, the ringlets

of your hair. Is this what it means

to be a vision?

Something to be seen when

we least expect it? Startled.

I’ve spilled this tea all over the newspaper.

As it tipped, I could have sworn I heard

something crying.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

St. Scolastica (patron of convulsive children, nuns. She is also invoked against storms and rain)

Hold the doves with both hands. Their feathers

shudder under your sleeves. In this white storm,

your eyes look like flooded basements. Shoulder

blades are the stumps of wings, constantly

about to sprout, almost breaking ground. We

all lived in mansions, but we didn’t know we were

poor. There is an art to descending a staircase

with the wood half rotted, the windows on the

landing shaking in their panes. This is a house

half-tumbled. Release the birds. They will hurry

to the fireplace, swoop up and out our chimney,

sing like smoke.