Poem 364 ± June 2, 2016

J.M. Templet
Two years, one month, one week, three days

I sit across from ghosts
at a folding card table
in the basement of
Our Lady of Perpetual Redemption

I wonder at women saints
I’ve read about
some dying in flame or war
their intellect too beautiful
hiding under those black robes

I want to write a torrid romance
saints must have such terrible guilt
over sex or fantasy
more than shame, more than hate
such purity it must be

Penny, the ghost on my left
is calling herself Penelope today
she thinks if she keeps
changing her name we might
forget her hollow eyes
her hollow necklace of collar bones

she smokes cigarettes attached
to long pipes like in silent films

Rob, our group leader
is too scared to tell her to stop
smoke is not allowed here
we might get cancer

last time he told her that
she leaned over
blew smoke in his mouth
with her black lips missing teeth
she said he kissed like a fish
all trout and no claw

Rob asks me about coping
about hope and inspiration
I’m supposed to talk about God
I’m supposed to ignore
the cross and the man nailed to it

such a symbol to admire
we, the cursed, should be saints
our suffering tears collected
for blessings faith healings seed money

I tell him I’m writing an autobiography
when it is turned into a screenplay
I want Liv Tyler to play me
the young me

without the weak left leg
almost yellow right eye
hitch walk, cave belly
without the bruised lips
arms tattooed with needle marks
blood drawn blood given
garbage in garbage out

we hold hands
our arms an unwilling

Rob barely grips Penny’s
he knows he can’t catch it
his letters are not H nor I nor V
his letters are in that brown book
frayed at the edges
he carries close to his chest


J.M. TempletJ.M. Templet’s work has appeared in Triggerfish, Counterexample Poetics, Marathon Literary Review, Strong Verse, Dig, Crossed Genres, and Fae Fatales. She took third place in the St. Louis Writer’s Guild short story contest in 2016. J.M. graduated from LSU several years ago and earned the Matt Clark prize in short fiction there. She recently earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Texas Woman’s University. J.M. lives in Baton Rouge where she works in a public library.

This poem is not previously published.