Lucia May | Puzzle from Paradise and other selected poems

Puzzle from Paradise

A curious knot God made in paradise:
to eat the fruit from the tree
of knowledge of good and evil,
and suffer labor and banishment,

or to abstain forever and relax
our sinless, flabby bodies that need only
to refuel our incurious brains
and futile, opposable thumbs.

We would assign names to beasts
and flowers and swat at legal trees’
low-hanging benign fruits
and sing the praise of God.

Adam and Eve’s curiosity
is our birthright but also our sin,
both inconvenient in the Christian
suburbs of Eden.

Some say their blunder
could be atoned for only
by Christ’s crucifixion
and spectacular resurrection.

Skillful Christians learn to pray,
to pay penance to the Son
who bled for our redemption
from our Need to Know natures.

We seek but do not find.
We desire but never acquire.
If cruelty has a human heart
then it has God’s DNA:
proper punishment for audacious souls.

The following three poems are, together,

The Suite of Modern Indulgences

Artisanal Memorial

An old
potter friend
sculpts her own
grave marker,
a soaring
She hopes
it will last
since she
will be dead
much longer
than alive.
Someday soon
the last
person alive
who knew
her firsthand
will die.
She crafts
a small dish
in the top
from which
birds can eat
or drink.
She finds it
a comfort
to think
of joining
the dead,
the largest

Catholic Currency

In Gertrude the Great’s eleventh-century
German convent God appeared in a vision
to tell her that He longed inexpressibly
for someone to ask Him to release souls
from purgatory, to have near Him those
for whom He paid so dear a price.

The Mission To Empty Purgatory
at has done the purgatory
population math based on census records
and the presupposition that human history
began 50,000 years ago. The rise in sin rates
from fatalities in the fetus boom
since Roe vs. Wade is also factored in.

In 1968 the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary,
a Vatican court which catalogs indulgences
and handles issues related to the forgiveness
of sins, published a list of 70 actions and prayers
for the faithful to decrease Purgatory time.

Pope Francis is dragging the Church
kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
According to the same Vatican court,
we can now shave time off Purgatory
just by following the Pope’s tweets.

A believer can still subtract seven years
by climbing the Roman Sacred Steps,
the dismantled steps from Pontius Pilate’s
house in Jerusalem that were transported
and reassembled in Rome in 400 A.D.

Digital Age Afterlife

I might want a barcode on my gravestone.
This is available from the Living Headstone
line of memorial products. A smart phone
reads the code and directs visitors
to a person’s memorial page. My remaining life
could consist of planning my archive
but my future mourners will likely be too busy
archiving themselves to read messages from me
on a posthumous email service.

375,000 Facebook users die each year.
Academics and social-media experts
explore estate law and grief ramifications.
Entrepreneurs build new businesses.
Your Digital Afterlife is a tips-and-planning book
from, with advice
about pre-programming tweets and other
afterlife management strategies
like appointing a digital executor.

I would like a link on my memorial page
to photos of galaxies and heavenly bodies
from Google Space for the quicksand feeling
of zooming in to grave level, and its inverse,
the dizzying trajectory up, since one life,
to be seen and held in the mind
must be far enough away that one grave
takes its proper place besides billions
of mostly unremarkable lives and deaths.



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