Friday, May 10, 2013

A Poem by John Kross

We have a cat named Ben who doesn’t wear a collar
so he stays indoors.
I know a saint named Ben whose picture's on a medal
that I wear outdoors.

I wear it for the safety, a bigger one we hang above the door
for superstitious reasons like a black cat crossing our path
that isn't ours, Ben is ours but Ben is brown not black and
Ben won't wear a collar so he stays indoors.

   St Benedict of Nursia the patron saint of lots of things,
   of remedies for poisoning, of evil witchcraft, suffering,
   a patron saint of lots of things, of aggies, engineers,
   spelunkers and those with fever near the gates of death.

   He is the patron saint of gall stones but not kidney stones
   if so his medal would have saved me from significant pain,
   but still I wear his medal when I go out to keep myself
   protected from whatever it is he protects us against.

   before he became a good luck charm, before he was a
   he lived in a cave in Italy in the year 400 a.d. where for
   three years the townsfolk brought him food to eat and
   talked him into coming out. No, not that kind of coming
   he wasn’t gay, he was a priestly hermit who was celibate.

   They put him in charge of a monastery when no one else
   wanted the job, but when he made the rules that still stick
   they didn’t want to listen so they tried to poison him twice
   both unsuccessful. This is where he gets the nod for

   Divine intervention saved the day, a raven stole the
   poisoned bread and a spasm smashed the poisoned cup.
   if they wanted him to go away they could have asked him
   but I guess they needed a saint, someone to martyr, so
   he went back to his cave and was promptly forgotten

   until the Connecticut witch trials of 1647 when a captured
   witch confessed that her powers were contained by a
   conspicuous medal that she’d never seen before mounted
   over doorways, and she heard the whispers of the
   townsfolk say
   the medal was the medal of a saint they called St.

I can personally attest that the medal is quite unique with
Latin inscriptions on both the front and the back. On one side
of the medal he stands and holds the holy rules, at his feet
a raven and a broken cup. An inscription on the medal reads:

          “May we at our death be fortified by his presence”

Flip it over and you’ll see:

          C S S
      N D S M D
          P M B

“May the holy cross be my light”
          “Let not the dragon be my overlord”
                     “This is the cross of Father Benedict”
                             “yadda yadda yadda”

Along the outer edge it looks like this, strangely similar
to a Ouija board.

                   B                V
               V                       R
             I                              S
               L                       N
                  Q                 S
                     M          V

PAX for Peace

The rest is this:
“Begone Satan yadda yadda yadda
        for evil is what you prefer yadda yadda
            so drink your own poison yadda”

350 some years since its inception and the medals popularity
still flourishes. I reach down and finger the medal beneath
my t-shirt and I realize what the strangeness feels like.

It feels like witchcraft.

I guess I’ll wait and see if anything happens
before I pass judgment.

I hang it near our bed at night and while
we sleep

our brown cat Ben likes to bat it around.

John Kross is an aspiring poet working and living in Dallas,Texas. He has been published here several times before in 2012 and 2013 including the 2012 best of antholgy "Storm Cycle". You can read more from him under the pen name "V" at

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