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 (pxhere.com) is combined with an image of a man in silhouette https://pixabay.com/en/man-shadow-silhouette-strange-160034