my favorite is one by Jusepe de Ribera


i guess you don’t just stop being Catholic

          in the eyes on your baptized skin

          in the catechisms piled like receipts

          in the memories of sorting through saints

but no one can stop you from getting worse at it


i look at the narratives like a pagan in the crowd

with a face made like a fist, a fist raised like a spear

pleased to see he is as breakable as i am


i look on the devotionals

like a sadist


someone paid to have Christ look handsome, to make him haggard

miserable or unflagging

someone paid to make him look their way when they pray

a white brand of white skin, a cloak like suffering

someone paid to put him man-made, man-made-low in their room


but here he is

not demure nor ecstatic nor passionate

instead he stains you with a gaze like a bruise

a gaze that suffers unabsolving on its own