Jan/Feb 2019 Salon

Lady Poverty

by Stanley Jenkins

Image salvaged from public domain

To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right;
for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to one who understands
and right to those who find knowledge.
Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her...
          —Proverbs 8:4-11



I consulted the oracle and she said
you only go around once,
so you have to grab for all the gusto you can get,
and that there was just never no place
where special orders don't upset us
hold the pickle hold the lettuce
and you deserve a break today
and have a great day
and smiley face
and smiley face
but don't bring that shit down here
we know your kind
and you best just keep in your lane
and then she said transcend transcendence
and the center is hollow
so the cat can sit in the circle
and the people who live downstairs
will someday live upstairs
so if you dance
you best just remember that.



There was the approach from on high and the approach from below—and the sneaking suspicion that the two were the same.

The boys on 52nd street were blowing Buddha Nature real good for free. But it didn't clarify the issue of the Corduroy Christ, fully human, fully divine. Or get the fly out of the bottle.

And while no one was looking, the question was asked about just what was being approached. And the whys and the wherefores of that horse of the 19th century, it was just being beaten in the street, that came up too.

I have given adoration to Our Lady of Chaos in the city of Chicago, and kissed the snake on her shoulder. And there just ain't nothing that I have been accused of that I could not be guilty of.

And yet still, this dirt holds my weight and you laugh at my jokes. Am I to be blamed if I begin to hope that I may have gotten away with it?

Been empowered to live without a why?

Or perhaps, given the license to just outgrow the question, itself?

I don't even care. I am alive.


Assisi (Grateful)

Everything had a halo. And it wasn't clear that I could stand the throbbing. The walls were breathing.

They've got the Poverello in the basement.
      And the unseen hand turns the crank.
            They buried him in stones.
But they never could stop the Jack in the Box.

Francis, the gift you gave me in secret. The one that was supposed to be just between you and me. You can have it back now. I don't need it anymore.

He's down there beneath the weight of two altars,
      Heavier than gravity.
            Pop goes the weasel!
Every time the school bell rings.

But if you want to know the truth. I have learned to stand still in the presence of seraphim. I have my own stigmata.

And I have chosen, in the light of Grace, to give it back.


Virtues, I take my leave of you forever,
I will possess a heart most free and gay;
Your service is too constant, you know well.
Once I placed my heart in you, retaining nothing;
You know that I was to you totally abandoned;
I was once a slave to you, but now am delivered from it.
I have placed my heart completely in you, you know well.
Thus I lived a while in great distress,
I suffered in many grave torments, many pains endured.
Miracle it is that I have somehow escaped alive.
This being so, I no longer care: I am parted from you,
For which I thank God on high; good for me is this day.
I am parted from your dominions, which so vexed me.
I was never more free, except as departed from you.
I am parted from your dominations, in peace I rest.
          —Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls


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