This collection of poems offers a completely unique take on the lives of the saints—this is the saints as you have never seen or thought of them before. The poems are electric, surreal and sublime, simple yet profound. One of the things that makes them so compelling is their lively mix of contemporary and traditional flavors. Across the board, the poems are imaginatively evocative and intellectually provocative—a true treasure.
In some cases, the author seems to draw inspiration from the saint’s life or the things for which the saint is a patron. Sometimes, the poet seems to be reacting to a portrait or statue of the saint. Sometimes the saint’s life is merely a canvass upon which the author seems to be projecting her own struggles or anxieties of the moment. Occasionally, she will even take a famous quotation from the saint and use it as the launching off point for the rest of the poem. Below I’ve listed a few samples that really struck me.
that movement in the womb is real.
as if a whole world is coming into
your eyes are blue and the sea swells
inside. give birth to this high-tide child.
this is how to make things whole again.
With the strength of a boxer swinging wildly,
your plush red fists pummel the sky to purple,
spotted with black clouds and streaks of blue.
The blood pools under the sun’s eye like a pond
that forms only after a storm. You have blinded
the light. We are thrown into darkness as our
one and only hot star, holds a thick red steak
over her eye. After days of nothing but night,
our skin fades to a virginal white. We forget
what the trees look like when they’re not
hunched over, their limbs clutching their
swollen bellies that rumble with hunger.
You must teach us how to survive in this.
Our ache for the light is an insatiable itch.
The Eucharistic imagery used for St. Catherine of Siena is especially interesting:
teach us how to kiss. & then crumble
on our sharp teeth. remember: you take the bleach
to your hair, not to your mouth. eat nothing but
Christ-as-flattened-moon. drink nothing but
water from those lakes on the moon.
you tried to explain heaven,
but I just couldn’t wrap
my head around it.
it was like a carnival
with all the lights on. …