by Jennifer Clark
Oh, saints of sudden death, miscarriage of justice and babies, saints of running sores and Polish dishes, we are running out of time. We must strengthen the saints among us and canonize quickly a saint for protection from rats.
Benjamin, Lilly, Jason, even nameless girls of rural places can call upon their saints. But what about Dantrell, Tyshawn Lee, or the Jamayhas who make honor roll, go to sleepovers, and get a bullet in their back? The rats are winning and we need a saint to intercede. Hurry, their bites bleed.
Oh, Hyacinth, Saint of Weight Lifters and Pierogi, lift up this heavy prayer packed with Gertrude of Nivelles. Not to be confused with Gertrude the Great, the Gertrude we need is the Gertrude of Belgium, who had a way with field mice. In her convent she baked cakes that kept the rats away. She was a woman who knew when to let the cats out.
Join with us, Jude, Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases and pray, pray, pray, so that all that scurries may run away. Hurry, a new rat has just been born. It whisks its whiskers at 12 days old. It loses one, it grows one back. Hack off an ear, so what? Rats hear through whiskers, whiskers always growing back, whisking us to death.
Hear the king of rats scratching at the convent door? I’ll be honest. I have to tell you. I’m the very, very best healer the world has ever seen. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. I can heal with a single steak. I’m so amazing. I should be a damn saint. Listen, folks. I don’t need anyone to make me anything but money. Hell, I’m God. Drink me. Let me in. I’m tremendous. I hate the weak, don’t you?
Jennifer Clark is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Necessary Clearings (Shabda Press). Her second poetry collection, Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman is forthcoming from Shabda Press. Her work has been published in failbetter, Concho River Review, Flyway, Nimrod, and Ecotone, among other places. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.