Haiku to the Saints

For a writer, self-promotion is a mug’s game. Last year, I made a hobby of haunting Fr. Jim Martin’s Facebook page, posting clever things in the hope that the great man would feel moved to take me up as a literary protege. “America Magazine is teeming with wonks, Max,” I imagined him PM-ing me. “What we need is a wit.” And with that, my fortune in Catholic letters would have been made.

For better or worse, things worked out rather differently. But in that hopeful time, I came up with one concept that, it strikes me now, deserves to be salvaged and expanded upon. That is the practice of writing haiku to various saints. Unlike many devotional practices — I’m thinking here of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet — it can’t be undertaken by rote; the act of composing forces a person to reflect on each saint’s unique qualities. Since haiku are short and needn’t rhyme, writing them keeps the brain in trim without blowing it out completely, the way writing, say, a sestina might do.

But well of that! From the files of Percy Dovetonsils Lindenman:

To my patron, Francis de Sales

Of all Saints Francis,
You’re by far the most obscure.
Does that piss you off?

To Therese of Lisieux:

A consumptive nun
And a chain-smoking layman:
Can’t it work, mignonne?

To Ven. Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdanez:

Oye, Monsenor:
My army friends assure me:
Benning ain’t all bad.

To Padre Pio of Pietrelcina:

I know you’re a saint,
But you really weird me out.
Can I see your hands?

To Clare of Assisi:

Barefoot trust-fund doll –
Kelly Bundy blonde to boot.
What a waste! (I kid.)

To John the Evangelist:

Bother art critics!
You’re no woman, sir, not you —
Just markedly glam.

To Blessed Pope John XXIII:

Squat and quotable:
The Yogi Berra of popes.
The Council: home run!

Now you try.

  • Billiamo

    I want so badly to write a haiku for St. Christina the Astonishing, but doubt that anything short of a Mahabharata-length epic poem would do!

    Incidentally, I don’t think you need to be anyone’s literary protege . . .

  • http://twitter.com/Joi_the_Artist Joi Weaver

    for St.Joseph:

    Always overlooked:
    No coins in your shrine at church.
    Sorry about that.

  • Anonymous

    It’s like a sitcom:
    Charming mom, precocious kid,
    Husband as fall guy.

  • Bensalem Catholic

    St. Katharine Drexel

    I pass your shrine all
    the time, forgetting you – do
    you remember me?

  • TriciaS

    St. Joan of Arc

    You burned at the stake
    the king you crowned turned coward;
    hell of a thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Billy Graham, Nixon
    Teresa and Baby Doc
    Joan and the Dauphin

  • Luna Raven

    To St. Mark the Evangelist from his mom:

    So, you were naked?
    You left your sheet on the ground?
    Who’s gonna wash it?

  • jkm

    Rosa de Lima

    Your beauty a cross,
    Your scarred face self-crucified:
    Rose in love with thorns.


    Gus, it’s your Mater,
    Pick up! Praying for your soul.
    (Christ, I need a drink.)

    Joseph of Cupertino

    Dumb. Sick. Mad. Drooling.
    I husband the animals–
    and, in His Grace, fly.


    My breasts on a plate
    Confused with bells! Martyrdom
    Peals from every tower.

    Teresa of Avila

    Christ’s own Beloved,
    Tossed from a mule, laughs.

    To St Max of Lindenman

    These are too much fun!
    Like literary popcorn–
    I can’t stop with one.

  • Anonymous

    Like the friar preached
    To the Shogun’s top headsman:
    You do break me up!