The Patron Saint of Lost Causes

Chris Castro-Rappl


The Patron Saint of Lost Causes


Saint Jude watches a fly

crawling upside down on the ceiling

of his apartment in the warehouse district

on the flickering outskirts of heaven.


If he stands, he will be backlit

by his window, a wasting shadow

against the nimbus city.

So he breathes

beneath the white light streaming in,

and wonders how he’ll make rent

on so few prayers a day.


The fly washes its face with hairy legs.


His supplicants confuse his name

with Judas Iscariot, the Gnarled One,

the betrayer, whose mail

Jude has often received, prayers

in red envelopes, text in ragged scrawl,

perfumed with day-old sweat

and a sharp desperation.


Infuriating to think of Judas

reading misdirected prayers,

licking his sharp little teeth,

giggling at a father’s plea

on behalf of his atheist son,

at the army wife

who swears to go to church

in exchange for her husband’s life,

not knowing that as she prayed

he was bleeding out, dyeing

the sand black, the dry wind

scourging his skin.


Even prayers properly addressed

and delivered to his box

are difficult to answer.

Lost causes are not called as such

on a whim. The other saints

and members of the host

nudge each other with elbows

as he passes in the halls

on the way to his tiny office.

“Jude, Jude,” they cry, “Why are you not

with Zeus or Loki, fading away

with the rest of the unneeded divine?”

He has an answer, written and rewritten

in a ragged journal, hard rectangle

he keeps under his pillow:

“Look around you!

Half the buildings in heaven are condemned.

Your makeup dries and cakes

and where it crumbles you are transparent,

folding into darkness.

Your feet sink deeper into the clouds

and soon you’ll step and feel nothing

as you fall to Earth.”


But he feels his own makeup crack

at the corners of his lips

and doesn’t speak

the words he works on

every night, written and rewritten,

because he has no one to pray to.




Chris Castro-Rappl is a lawyer and writer currently living in North Carolina. He studied poetry at UNC Chapel Hill. He can’t remember a time before he was intimately aware of the details of sorcerers and spaceships. His poetry has been published in Cellar Door, Haggard and Halloo, and Star*Line Magazine.



Editor’s Note: A silhouetted architecture against a night sky in a downtown city ( is combined with an image of a man in silhouette

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