for Francis Xavier McCarthy


Thirteen years back this very day I be
Before the Trinity,
Decades of heresy
And all my modest fortune wildly spent.

Hitting bottom I thought it at the time,
Confused, depressed and lost.
Ten weeks from Pentecost
The Holy Spirit spun me like a dime

And snatched me from the grasp of suicide.
He marched me up a path
Leading from drunken wrath
To the clear Great Plains air where I abide,

Trying to craft a Christian way to live,
Murphy the first sinner I must forgive.


I know firsthand it’s a hard hill to climb.
Now I approach its end,
Way too early, friend.
Cancer catches me running out of time,

A final lesson in humility,
In long-suffering pain
Washing life down the drain.
Fishers of men have their nobility

I wish I’d studied more than these few years,
Sts. Matthew, Luke and John,
St. Mark, his stories drawn
Sitting at Peter’s feet, the Roman spears

Ranked around Christ and cross at Calvary:
Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani.


Benedict sent a vision, and you called,
The saint and not our Pope
Emeritus, a rope
Of elpis grasped on which our Savior hauled.

You claimed “Jesus loves drunks and faggots too,”
And I laid by my gun.
The early springtime sun
Streamed through my glass wall with its river view.

Francis, we’d fallen silent thirty years.
Thank God you tracked me down,
Thank God you talked me down,
For that day death was least among my fears,

I, who hadn’t the least clue how to pray.
Had you not called I couldn’t write today.