Marilyn Kallet

Soaked, by Marilyn Kallet
November 11, 2012 Kallet Marilyn



At the friary lunch we chat about End of Days,

and who was at the Last Supper. John and Peter


to the left of Jesus, Judas clutching his moneybag,

verklempt on the right, Mary Magdalene. I’m playing her,


in my splashy red-rose dress and Jewish sarcasm.

Bro Jesus at our table is Latin, too good-looking.


When he confesses he has a poem to share,

I’ll be damned if I swoon. I pitch San Juan’s “Poem


for the Ascent of Mount Carmel,” stained

with the poet’s erotic sweat for God.


Old Father Conrad flashes snapshots of his macaw,

that he has trained to shriek, “Praise be the Lord!”


He ministers at the cancer ward—no one begrudges him

a flamboyant bird in his room.


No one but Benjamin Péret, and he’s crammed

between acid-free pages of a paperback.


Sometimes in the morning my desk is wet

from condensation of the water glass.


But I dream Benny’s been here, spitting

from the grave at every priest he spies,


soaking them like a loaded Surrealist

in the day. Now he drives the bus to Père Lachaise.


What happened to you, Benny,

in that vestry in la Vendée, behind those heavy


curtained robes?

Marilyn Kallet is Knoxville Poet Laureate, and has published 18 books, including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me, and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems and Benjamin Péret’s The Big Game. Dr. Kallet is Professor Emerita at the University of Tennessee. She leads a writing residency for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Auvillar, France. She has performed her poems across the United States as well as in France and Poland, as a guest of the U.S. Embassy’s “America Presents” program. Her poetry appeared recently in New Letters and is forthcoming in North American Review’s “Open Space,” and in New Voices, an anthology of contemporary voices on antisemitism.