Thursday, April 9, 2009

Litany of Laredo

Hail Mary
full of grace
rubbing dirt
into her face
through the plaster
pale and stark
our mother’s face
is glowing dark

Father please forgive me
if a question
is a sin
but when Jacob
pinned the angel
did the angel
let him win?


Hail Mary
full of dread
fleeing when
your husband said
the slaves return
as transients
our mother pawned
the frankincense

Father please forgive me
if I slept
while you were praying
but I lost an ear
to fervor
and I can’t hear
what you’re saying


Hail Mary
full of tears
kept him safe
for thirty years
and made of him
just one request
that tore apart
the hornet’s nest

Father please forgive me
if I’ve asked you
this before
but I couldn’t be
more hungry -
could I maybe
be less poor?


Hail Mary
full of awe
storing up
the things you saw
from the blessed
to the cursed
our mother twice
beheld him first

Father please forgive me
if I can’t find
my way home;
but there’s giants
stalking Judah
and there’s lions
prowling Rome

15 comments:

RachelW said...

There's a lot of neat stuff going on there. I like the tone of it; this rings with humour, or at very least irony, to me.

Julie said...

Joaquin, this is an awesome poem. The first stanza is a powerful intro. And I love that second stanza! What an interesting question.

But this stanza really leaped out at me and is my favorite:

"Father please forgive me
if I’ve asked you
this before
but I couldn’t be
more hungry -
could I maybe
be less poor?"

It's another powerful question.

You have so much heart and soul in your writing. You also stop me in my tracks and make me think. I love it.

Karen said...

Once again, you've done it for me, Joaquin. You've left me with that amazement I often feel after reading your poetry.

I love the structure, the message of both sets and am dumbstruck by the last stanza.

Mother Mary, confined by the structure and the strictures, is freed in this to be the mother
"full of tears" who "kept him safe/for thirty years," the one "full of awe/storing up/the things you saw."

I love the contrast of the questions with the intentions of the church.

Very, very thought-provoking piece.

Karen said...

I forgot to mention the photo - great pick for this.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Powerful. Chilling reference to Malchus, and the violence in the garden. I really think Peter was aiming for Caiaphas.

Also loved the way you depicted the flight into Egypt - Mary pawning a gift from the Magi. Brilliant.

ah...Mary keeping her Son safe for 30 years...ironic isn't it - He being the Savior of the world. He did tear apart a hornet's nest. He exposed the Sanhedrin, among other corrupt factions.

This whole poem is filled with wonderful literary nuances, religious affiliation, subtleties and ironic wit. You have in your most illustious way expounded on a viewpoint. Very innovative!! I'll be coming back around in the morning - for a second read.

such a silly girl said...

i can't say more than the pple before, even if i tried, which i'm not.

I love it.
And I love the way it's sad... but still can make me smile through my tears. :)

Jannie Funster said...

Leonard Cohen - is that really you??

Just breath-taking, Joaquin.

And I like the time-line following of the story.

Sarah Hina said...

Wow. This is flawless, Joaquin. I am not familiar with every allusion, but I feel the ache and humility of questioning that which has already required so much sacrifice.

There is the weight of history in these words, and yet their rhythm is light and the transitions effortless.

You are an immensely fine poet. I will be back to read more.

Karen said...

Back for another read. This is a wonderful poem.

Karen said...

I don't know where to write this, but I love Ides on Cat's production.

maaga..... said...

"Father please forgive me
if I’ve asked you
this before
but I couldn’t be
more hungry -
could I maybe
be less poor?"

this is indeed, a most powerful question...
a lovely piece and wonderful read...from start to finish!

keep doing what you're doing..we'd miss you if you didn't..

Mairi said...

I'm with RachelW. I smiled out loud more than once. If I still taught Sunday School I'd make a lesson out of this. I found you through Cat's video, which I admired very much, your contribution included. Glad to meet you in person, so to speak.

trooping with crows said...

Here's how it went down...
I read it really fast without blinking or breathing. Then I went back and read at a normal pace and by the end I was just shaking my head, really, because well, I am in awe.
Impossible to pick a favorite stanza, but I think it's "Hail Mary full of tears..."
Mary (or whatever name one chooses to call her by) is a big inspiration to me. I felt this one all over. It's hard to ponder Mary's life. Chosen above all others by God for her goodness only to suffer the ultimate loss and heartbreak. With every ounce of my being, I love this poem.

joaquin carvel said...

rachel - thank you - i do prefer to take my irony with a lump or two of humor if i can (also - "all fall down" is fantastic).

julie - wow - the last line of your comment is exactly how i feel about your work - really - thank you.

karen - thank you. i guess contrast is an operative word here - the more i learn the less i know - but maybe that's how it's supposed to work (sometimes). and glad you liked "ides" - i don't think it was quite done but it worked. been noodling with it - at least i'll have it for some week when i don't have anything else to post.

k. - i think, in a strange way, it's the paradoxes that make it genuine to me. your comments are as insightful and inspiring as your poems - thank you for (all of) them.

silly girl - thank you - there is nothing quite like a smile through tears, i think.

jannie - w o w. although he is (to steal his words) "a hundred floors above me" - i will bask in the glow of this - thank you.

sarah - thank you - "ache and humility" is right where this came from. happy you dropped by - hope you will again.

maaga - good to hear from you again - thank you. and i'll try - i don't know what else to do with these things.

mairi - thanks - glad you swung by - funny, i popped into secret poems of the tls from karen's blog the other day - glad to meet you too.

troop - ok, but - did you like it? kidding - mary is an incredible figure - more so, i think, the more human she is allowed to be - glad you see her the same way. and thank you - i really appreciate your comments - this one stunned me into wise-crackery.

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