I got interested in obscure Catholic saints a while back, so I wrote this ring of sonnets, then forgot about it. This seems like a good place, and time, for it:
From the Periphery (Lesser-Known Saints)
“Please remember: dawn came, and we were freed,
freed from the devils that stir up the sea,
and we were grateful. Grace hid us a while
from their strange eyes and teeth; grace is not guile,
however, and so we beg the Lord’s mercy
for those brethren swallowed by the beast
before reaching Rome. Their souls will surely
ascend, and they will go join in the feast
of light. The King’s feast, here, is also fine,
and so we give thanks, but these earthly fruits
are but shadows of divine sustenance.
And though we made not Rome, Cornwall does shine
upon a kind of hill… so end your disputes.
Pure hearts do not bicker with providence.”
“Pure hearts do not bicker with providence,
nor swear allegiance to the methods of man;
providence is a mountain of fire,
and method but a cave in that mountain.
So, though I cannot decide who loves me,
I can give birth, and force, at least, that debt
upon another. Who loves me, loves me,
no matter, I love the Lord above all
and in all things, none shall come between us.
Ah, your men are here. Their choice? Release me–
and themselves from the bondage of their deed–
or put hands on my neck and sacrifice
their souls. Scoundrels! Let me pray, at the least;
no, let me sit and watch the falling snow.”
Bl. Edward Oldcorne
“No, let me sit and watch the falling snow;
you have put the iron to my feet, torn
my flesh with hooks, I have no desire
save witness to God’s creation. Undone?
To the contrary, my heart is aglow
and certain of its home, and of your scorn,
my frail abuser. You are a liar:
you hold the whip, the brand, but truth you shun;
what other kind of man could do this work?
It saddens me, that you will never trust
or be trusted. Once more: I acquired
no powder, nor schemed, nor claimed murder just,
as you soon will, when I dangle and jerk;
Enough! The sun arrives, and the flesh tires.”
“Enough! The sun arrives, and the flesh tires.
The best intentions will not make a wall;
prayers do not eat, nor fill the empty mouth,
even with fingers of pure light, even
when bringing word to the eye, the heart fired
with silent bellows… the flesh is not all,
but it can build and harvest and smelt ore
from a vanishing spark. Work, and heaven
will welcome you; flesh is a plow, grieving
a harness, spirit an ox. We adore
He who steers our furrows straight; we appal
our crooked eyes, what the flesh still desires.
What do the descendants of Pharoahs own?
Their bodies are wooden, of fire their thrones.”
St. Seraphim of Sarov
“Their bodies are wooden, of fire their thrones,
these sons of men, the lost, the misleading.
As a child, I knew fevers, as a man,
I spent three years a-bed; after visions,
the Virgin descended and healed me.
The Son of God came, and I lost all words,
thieves came and beat my flesh and I smiled;
for a thousand nights I prayed, arms upraised,
and the Virgin came once more to bless me.
My joy! The Holy Spirit surrounds us!
Why do you stand in front of your own eyes
like a soldier? I am no thaumaturge,
I do nothing but the work of the Lord,
and the Lord renders all work meaningless…”
St. Emma of Lesum
“And the Lord renders all work meaningless,
and I have done no work but spent myself,
and my right hand, that which spent most freely,
is a holy thing, at least, I beg you.
Look! A Cathedral! A meadow for thee!
All my riches given in the Lord’s name,
though, to be fair, not given all at once;
which of the meek could stomach my riches,
they would wretch and vomit and great evil
would fix itself like a leech upon such
simple souls… so I have worked, after all,
at saving my flock from worldly wealth,
at marrying charity with prudence.
I worked, Lord, and found no miracles”
“I worked, Lord, and found no miracles.
I stole, Lord, and found more hunger, more thirst.
I went to the desert and learned to kill.
I killed for pleasure, for the smell of it,
and to dance in their blood. Once, I met a child
and could not kill him, his mother, father;
I paid forty drachmas to vile Gestas
and let them go. My soul burst, I lost years
to the vine, to purse slitting, to Gestas
again, the only partner I deserved,
then found myself here, upon Golgotha,
the place of the skull, nailed to a gibbet,
and Gestas still yammering in my ear!
Please remember. Dawn comes… and I am free.”