The saint francis

St Francis

of the birds in your hand
and the hares at your feet
you’ll stroke only them
and i, alone, crave
only to touch only your feet

of the calf by your side
lashes long over eyes brown and wide
do you not see me in that calf?
did you not see my eyes also brown and wide?
i see
i know
you did
and turned your own inside

of the rabbit at the left foot of you
would-be god,
begged i,
sprung i,
at your voice
but you saw me not
and withheld your nod

of the sparrow at hover
at the level of your eye
have you idea what it took for me to fly?
before i met you, impossible, nigh
but at first meeting,
before inquisition,
so light in the sky was i

of the owl at your right hand
oh would-be god
did you not see me so clearly?
of course you did you failed, failed man
but preferred me kneeling

and the mouse in your hair
did you not feel me rooting for crumbs
in the maze of your wildness unbooting
of your tillings un-fooding
of your walkways un-sure-footing?

and the rat in your vestment
did you not feel my nails?
as i went scrounging for some route, some way
to touch you at the entrails?

of the mosquito at your thigh
did you not feel when i sipped your blood like wine
for nourishment before you i did never find?

oh saint
oh saint
oh taker and painter of my heart
paints of lead and taint and shame

oh man of peace and carver of heart,
you left me in this place
while you journeed apart and you smelled new places and saw new faces
while i boxed and blindered tasted only my heart
you have sky and steps to take you from yourself away
while i trapped here rot and pray
oh man of peace
i prithee, release

oh man of peace
you have scrape of bark and song of lark
while i recline only on this stone seat and consume the glacial remains of my heart
for alms failing
alone in this life without spark

oh man of peace
you sit upon grass
you tread the open air
while the difference here is
one sees that the stone,
but not i,
does weep
and it, the stone,
but not you,
has cares and affairs

oh man of peace
oh would-be god
please loose the rod
please end our rot
what abstemious us
should justly have sought

and i am ever cold
and i am ever ill
without hunger and less with will
and past hunger are my empty breasts
inward did they fold

on days when the stone is dry
then i am wet
weeping from my legs during an escapèd dream
of you and me and
the floor of the woods upset

oh would-be god
do you know the every month where my heart runs out and
could i
would i
put it in a cup
and bring me to your lips
oh would-be god
and me, it’s me
on which i need you sip

if i were but a sister of mercy

if i were but a sister of mercy
i’d have no disgrace in this death of bed

if i were but a sister of mercy
i’d have not the regrets of love unsaid

if i were but a sister of mercy
i’d have not the rot of love unwed

if i were but a sister of mercy
all that is outside would not fight its way inside
to burn coals into my carrion heart

if i were but a sister of mercy
i’d not live this perpetual death of the soul and the flesh

if i were but a dove of peace
i’d sit on the left hand of my found father

if i were but a dove of peace
i’d look from my perch on all the less fortunate others

if i were but a dove of peace
i’d know air less fetid, less crowded
than that i share in these cloisters, these dungeons, these chambers
traded plush for poor
but lacking nonetheless
each chamber of house or heart all void and lifeless lacking in vent

if i were but a dove of peace
i’d not have traded fathers and therein killing one for the un-kissing of the other

if i were but a dove of peace
i would not take the word and deeds of a would-been saint
and used them against father and mother

if i were but a dove of peace
i’d less impoverish the souls beneath me
i’d less cage them in soul-killing and eye-rheuming piety
and their fingers would not crack
and their breath would come easy
and their step might spring at meadows
and their gaze might rise above these killing rooms,
above these cold-burning candles
and shorn of these stifling contemplations
these perpetual, circular, contemplations
these devotions devoid of life
devoid of meaning
devoid of the will free to render them seeming
with the pensity of sincerity, instead of the paucity of obedience

if i were but one of assumption
i’d be able to fight off this consumption
the catarrh in these lungs
the gryppe on this heart that has such blood running soon from the doors of this nunnery
out the doors,
through the bars
into the blind streets
into the streets blind to gore from this nunnery

if i were a sister of charity
i’d take him by the strong jaw and weak heart
and bend him to my lips
and bend him to my breasts
and bind him to my hips
and take out the lust and love o ploughshares into swords and crops
against the skin soft of these my proteges
and not wither them
and not worry out their hair
and not weary out the grasses of their hearts to straw upon our stone floors
which always burns white for this straw always dry
for no liquid but that in the lungs allowed herein these cloisters
and cages i’ve built for my sisters in mercy

and him escaping his manhood to bestiality and not to me
and winning plaudits and canons from crop-haired men in these shorn times of death
inside this city of plenty
where leather is worked into wallets and wonders
while hearts are tanned-well into plates of cuttlefish fit only for the bottoms of footwear
for the stepping thereon
and the canons and the laurels and wreaths of peace mere bangles on death,
on the man i would love

and there are no saints

only he who took me from my father, saying “i’ll supplant him … you’ll need no other”
then commanded “neither you nor i shall have what we seek”
rather our skin and our hearts jerk the meat
and sleep on stone floors in coats of burlap
apart and of this robust body now dried to jerk,
the last step is it fades to white smoke,
falls back to earth
and we will celebrate the new pope’s new birth
as we settle into the folds of the earth
graveless, gormless
shameless and formless,
dead before our parents
them forced to watch us wither and die
and powerless to say where we will lie
with nothing to grasp and no place to cry.

my own upturned hands
* could i lift myself in my own upturnèd hands
and you drink from me, you failure of a man
you failed, failed, abdicated man
you pretender to god
do you not see what you’ve wrought, and not?

do you not see that my presence here
is not nobility and strength,
rather pathology and taint?

and this convent is no refuge
rather just a box you’ve built in which to lock me,
your soul
and the other animals at your feet
are like me,
only meat,
to a man gone running
from his soul,
from me,
you son of a whore
sans key.