The Metropolitan of Wallace Street
A few Baltic households remained,
Interspersed throughout the barrio:
Bodegas and the Roberto Clemente Center
Between churches built by Russians,
Swedes, and Lithuanians two generations ago.
Re-gentrification rolled slowly from the west
Around the Art Museum, heading
Block by block toward North Broad,
Adding another ingredient to the mix.
In the 1600 block of Wallace Street
Gold-blazoned letters and Slavic cross
Announced the Holy Resurrection Cathedral
Inside the red-brick row house next to the
Vacant lot and music-blaring bodega.
From what once was a living room
The Divine Liturgy was served weekly to
Family and anyone who wandered in.
Metropolitan Trevor, Archbishop of Wallace Street
And renegade non-canonical Orthodox
Held forth with bargain-basement vestments,
A button-festooned miter and minimalistic icons
Late evening, humid or frigid, he walked
The nearby streets, consoling the
Derelict and drugged,
Pressing five dollar bills into hands,
Offering brief words of consolation,
A shooting star over a desperate earth.
During daylight standing with
Those who tried to temper abuse and
Ravages of urban living and
Herding the far-flung cats of
His nebulous jurisdiction.
On my last visit, again pleading with me to
Follow his course in any way I chose,
Standing with him at the altar for
The first and last time
Presiding over a dwindling flock on
A sweltering August morning.
When newsletters and notes no longer to
The Land of Enchantment came
I called to learn why, never expecting to
Hear how cancer short-circuited
Career and family to oblivion.
Halfway-reconciled to all he loved,
And to the God whose light nonetheless
Shone through the fully-human
Yet touched by the divine,
Metropolitan of Wallace Street
Asked for a cigar and soon
Passed from one life to the next.
Bio: Arthur Turfa lives in the South Carolina Midlands, but his poetry contains influences of his native Pennsylvania, California, Germany (where he has also lived), as well as other places. His first book of poetry. “Times and Places, Reflected”, will be released in the Spring of 2015 by eLectio Publishing. Published in theMunyori Literary Journal and South Carolina English Teacher, he also maintains a personal blog, Some Poetry at aturfa.blogspot.com, and is an Owner at Words on Fire on Google+
Poetic Statement: Essentially I think Wordsworth had it right, although I do not always find long-lasting tranquility. Something or someone grabs a hold of me, and lingers until I recapture the moment, the glimpse, or the time from my life. My poetry attempts to include the reader into what I experienced, rather than telling the reader all about it or me. At times I strive for a sense of closure, at others I want to preserve something (more as a Symbolist than an Imagist). Whom do I read; Eliot, Auden, Rilke (in the original), Frost, Updike, Shakespeare, Bukowski, and others.Language that sings is more important that language that rhymes.