St. Anthony's Fire
Shane Neilson. On Shaving Off His Face. Erin, Ontario: The Porcupine's Quill. 2015.
1alights. Imagine Christ rye-laden, his gangrenous fingers full of blessings, the witches of
2Salem dancing in the fields, the ergot lysergic constricting throats and vessels and sanity,
3filibustering the guts and men asking why, the monks of St. Anthony with the perfect
4cure: all things in abstinence, attention placed on doomed limbs and poultices applied to
5god in your image. Robbed of touch with peripheral neuropathies and visible sores, the
6manna from heaven contaminated with Claviceps purpurea, whole civilizations monster-
7movied, disease being the measure of purity in a lost heaven, break bread with them, O
8lord, break bread with them and have them hallucinate you, have them taste the manic
9essence of Ignis Sacer, have them wither and waver and tuck their too-suffering children
10in at night, quivering in the fear of all unknown, this ingested pestilence, this rictus gift.
11The truth: your curses are the miracles we know first.
RPO poem Editors:
Poem used with permission of the author.