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Manual for the Would-Be Saint

By Susan L. Miller Poetry

The first principle: Do no harm. The second: The air calls us home. Third, we must fill the bowls of others before we drain our own wells dry. The fourth is the dark night; the fifth a subtle scent of smoke and pine. The sixth is awareness of our duties, the burnt offering of our…

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The Wolf of Gubbio

By Susan L. Miller Poetry

Imagine yourself an old wolf: lean and ragged, belly shrunken beneath a ribcage as bowed as a galleon’s undercarriage, shoulders broader than your painful hips, and paws the size of a lion’s. You terrify each living thing you encounter, voles and rats ducking into holes, rabbits humping their soft backs, propelled under bushes by back…

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The Death of Barabbas

By John Poch Poetry

Rebel, but you cannot refuse. The son of the father or son of man could be anyone. You win some, you lose. Rebel, but you cannot. Refuse to think or do, and still you choose. At the end of time, no one can rebel. For you cannot refuse the Son of the Father or Son…

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[A soft, slow smell rises up]

By Gemma Gorga Poetry

A soft, slow smell rises up from the field, the smell of bread, of Mass, of Friday. After the rain, idleness climbs the agaves and the fennel stalks bend under the unbearable weight of their own perfume. Wounds are so tender that reality hides underground, as frightened and retractable as a snail. Translated from the…

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[You bind my hands with saliva]

By Gemma Gorga Poetry

This is a rich, mighty martyrdom.              —Santa Teresa de Ávila, The Book of Life You bind my hands with saliva, then turn three times round my waist and ensure your victory with a knot without a loophole. You’re a snail, binding the hands of the rain. You rend the night any which way…

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[Do you remember the seraphim]

By Gemma Gorga Poetry

Do you remember the seraphim in that Romanesque fresco we were looking at in the room of the Master of Pedret? They looked straight at us, hands outstretched, as if they refused to die under the effects of depigmentation that was erasing them from the kingdom of light. They’re symbols of love—Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna—peeling and…

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Father Rodney

By Richard Pierce Poetry

In the ancient Greek, “liturgy” means “work done for the people.” Someone calls around 9:30, as he’s brushing his teeth for bed. An Orthodox in a nursing home has passed in McKeesport, and the priest is out of town. Up since five, he drives the hour north, prays for the soul, anoints the body. Earlier,…

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Salt of Sodom

By Richard Pierce Poetry

Ancient salt burned in the Temple incense, but also consumed. Mined, gathered from flats or evaporated Dead Sea brine— theories vary. So strong, hands were washed after meals because a careless touch to the eye could cause blindness. Lord, make us this pungent, that others might be thrown down blind, lifted up at the sight…

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Go Gentle

By Richard Pierce Poetry

What good is fighting now? You’re dying. Light will greet you wherever you go. Or it will not. Go gentle into that good night. Why rage against your sleep another night with fists that won’t unclench the twisted sheet? What good is fighting now? Your dying light shines its blossom of sharpened bones. Your plight,…

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Imagineer of Variety

By John Terpstra Poetry

Maker of heaven and earth ——-of time and season Thinker-upper of soil —— of autumn decay, and rot and roots drawing nutrients ——-whatever they are that feed and sustain —— the beauty of the lilies, and the violets Imagineer of variety Puller-offer of the impossible breaking our hearts ——-every spring day ——-with greater magnolia blossom ————–finer,…

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