Trilobite is an arthropodologist's delight:
many bizarre creatures; no two alike.

“Three ikons & some rain”

Jim Chapson

The Ladder

At the end of the shift you discover

you got the same pay as the others

who lounged all day in the shade

while you busted your ass in the sun.

Your sister entertains the guests

on her second glass of wine

while you are consigned to the kitchen

scrubbing the pots and pans.

Your feckless younger brother

gets your parents’ attention and love

while they have reserved for you

the headaches of running the farm.

Accused of committing adultery

you face death by stoning

while the one who was really at fault

gets off with a lecture and a warning.

You are climbing an endless ladder

disappearing into the clouds

while demons swarming around you

compete to pull you down.

The Calf’s Head

In the shade of a tree, three young men

have finished their meal; nothing’s left

on the table but a calf’s head in a bowl.

They are discussing in silence

something important, their faces turned

towards each other in a circular gaze.

Each holds in his left hand

a staff of authority, and with his right

gestures towards the bowl.

Apart from their stillness, attention,

serenity, and faintly discernible wings,

they are much like us.

Perhaps they would like us to join them:

there’s an open place at the table

beside the calf’s head in a bowl.

27 July 305

Greatmartyr Panteleimon,

unmercenary healer, holy helper

canonically depicted as a young man

with a full head of curly hair,

in his left hand holds a gold medicament box

at the level of his heart,

in his right a gold spoon ready to extract

from the unguents, powders and pills

a remedy specific to the illness

revealed to his diagnostic gaze.

Surrounding the central image of the saint,

a border of miniature scenes depicts

the stations on his path to martyrdom:

he is made the emperor’s physician;

brings back to life a boy bitten by a snake;

makes a paralytic walk, a blind man see.

Denounced by envious colleagues

for healing in the Divine Name,

Panteleimon is sentenced to death

by the pagan Emperor Maximian.

But blazing torches cannot burn him;

the breaking wheel breaks under him;

as from a soothing bath

he rises from a vat of molten lead.

And when he allows at last

the executioner to lop off his head,

from the stump of his neck

flows blood and milk

Alas, the many stories

of his life and martyrdom,

his diagnostic gaze and healing heart,

are pious legends told of many saints.

Nevertheless, in the year 305 in Nicomedia

under the reign of emperors Diocletian

and Maximian, was martyred

an unmercenary healer called Panteleimon.

In Ravello a vial of his desiccated blood

interspersed with milk liquefies

annually on the day of his martyrdom.

Alphonsus Liguori testifies, “I have seen it.”


In a corner of the curio shop

between the post cards and the tee shirts

they are listening.

In a glass case beside a card saying

Not For Sale

they are listening.

With eyes sewn shut

they cannot see, with lips

sewn shut they cannot speak,

cut from their bodies

the shrunken heads

cannot move but are listening

to the sound of wind

through the palm trees, waves

rolling over the reef, cars

driving by not stopping, rain

on the roof all night, rain

dripping from the eaves and the awnings.