The Pope, Afterliving It Up?

by Creeley Piker

INCENSE, disinfectant, apple juice, Latin,
the clatter of rosaries, a cinematic beep
The Pope at the end of his rope
But certain of Jacob's ladder

        *

John Paul II unbuckles Earthly shackles
At the Gates, unexpectedly saffron,
St. Peter and a klatch of angels
flap him over to the Big G,
from whom a thousand points of light usher
They tour the grounds, plush with cumulus,
till the Maker of Worlds leads the Pope
to an area decidedly working class.
''Here you go,'' says the Intelligent Designer.
''Where are we?'' ventures JPII.
''Oh,'' sayeth the Lord, ''This is where we keep you Pollacks.''

        *

John Paul II defenestrated from mortality,
a band of yellow light, then
flames hissing up through vents in linoleum
Everywhere there are TV sets
legions of souls are glued
He sits at the nearest Toshiba
a tray of salisbury steak appears
eternity passes with ''Who's The Boss''

        *

The last temptation of Pope John Paul II
a field of alternating altar boys
but then the fabled tunnel of light
he shambles, he climbs, he crawls,
passing the corona, entering the epicenter
then . . .
the last saint he curses is Aquinas
before blinking out to nothing.

        *

John Paul II penetrates the veil of existence
discovers himself in the coldest water
as a sacramentally appropriate fish
cod, to be exact
he backfins forward, happily mouthing for food
until it occurs to him
that he will not be safe during Lent.

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