Back to Issue Forty-Four

In Assisi



This souvenir shop is full of skinny wooden crucified Christs
like there weren’t enough of those in the churches already

I guess everyone has to believe in something
Crystals, colonics, when you die you get virgins or your very own planet
where you can spin for eternity in your celestial underpants

Some people believe Jesus spoke to St. Francis, but I have a feeling
Jesus is just going to hang there silently
looking holy & tormented for another two thousand years or so

I don’t think I’m going to get a Catholic miracle, like a statue blinks at me
& I suddenly understand Italian Greek Latin Aramaic & Ugaritic

or peel off my tattoos & send the carved lions of my higher self
to tear apart the lambs of my addictions

I’ll probably just go on kneeling before minibars in hotel rooms
in my silk robe of flowers, praising the macadamias

One story about St. Francis is that two years before he died he got stigmata
Probably malaria or leprosy, but imagine those sores

He dressed in a mended sack & old worn sandals
If you saw him in Berkeley you might cross the street
then come back with some change & try not to touch his hand

At the end of his life he was going blind, living in a reed hut overrun by mice
Mice slithering over his feet, mice climbing the table to sit on his plate
I guess they figured out that the job of a saint is to suffer as horribly as possible

St. Agnes raped & stabbed in the throat
Joan of Arc burned & cast into the Seine

Oliver Plunkett:
drawn & quartered

Brother Sun, Sister-in-law Death, forgive me
I don’t see the point of all this pain, or believing it gets better
when you’re boxed & delivered to the parade of microbes that will devour your corpse

I know my soul is small, it just wants a decent hotel room
& the man who lies down to sleep so trustingly beside me
to open his eyes & love me


Kim Addonizio’s latest poetry collection, just out in paperback, is Now We’re Getting Somewhere (WW Norton). She is the author of seven other poetry collections, two novels, two story collections, and two books on writing poetry, The Poet’s Companion (with Dorianne Laux) and Ordinary Genius, as well as a memoir, Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life (Penguin). Her awards include fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation. She lives in Oakland, California, and teaches live Zoom workshops.

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