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Richard Stuecker

Holy Week, 2017


O, necessary sin of Adam . . . O happy fault . . .

Easter Proclamation



(Fellini footage/Nino Roto score)


Predictable piazza du Padova.

A ragged figure purses lips

to a silver mouthpiece, lifts

a haunting anthem skyward, 

stars tumble enchantment.

White powder drifts from

drooping clown’s mouth,

precise steps, ring enscribed,

impossible feats unveiled, 

applause, dispensed 

crowd disperses.


(fade to black)



Sister Raymunda fingers colored chalks

only sainted nuns may touch, 

angels, flaming colors 

of the Cirque du Monte Carlo,

across a scarred blackboard, choirs

swirling around the eye of God

within a sky of Giotto blue.

She reveals to our amazement:

Il Paradiso -- 


Sister Raymunda (who has never studied Dante, in Italian nor in translation) blazes Wonder:


Some of you may squeeze into

the celestial mystery with the

grace of a street urchin,

if you are skilled and scourged.

Sadly, most will find yourself 

drudging in the icy pits.


Before us, swirling fingers, 

on another slate rises leviathan Satan,

gorging sinners as blinded Polyphemus

swallowed drunken sailors 

before their fellows fled his cave

under the bellies of bleating sheep. 


Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom


Her apotheosis:  

Sister drifts across the room, 

brandishes a long oak pointer,

a black garbed Seraph taps 

each stunned head, transforms us

into song birds: 






Palm Sunday, my brother-in-law decided

to die a long slow death

on his family room floor.

Days passed. 

A tiny car appeared expelling

A doctor, a nurse, a lady 

(with an alligator purse)

plied their instruments, found no remedy.

Weeks passed.

Tony stared ceaselessly 

through a stately window:

a gnarly dogwood tree --

the wood of the Cross --

buds and blossoms

ten thousand crucifixions. 



Sunset at Scituate, clownish clouds 

tumble toward nighttime, radiant stars.

A school of young sailors 

follow a schooner, haul in their sails.

A cormorant dives deep for fish.


I sit on a bench my grandmother sat upon, pregnant with my mother, unmarried, searching


below the stalwart lighthouse

seagull cries divert my thoughts 

toward fluttering canvas across the point, 

a painted elephant announces: 


Under the Big Top – as the circus should be seen!


(Tonight. I will snake my body into the death-defying show)

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