Francis Ecstatic – Julian Bishop

 

Brother Leo gives chapter and verse

on this ecstasy: as if heaven were exploding,

its glory splashing forth in millions

of stars like waterfalls. But it’s the reverse

 

for Francis on the mountain of Verna

at this moment of stigmata – no flaming

angels but a beefy stripling shoehorning

the stubbled saint onto his seraphic lap.

 

The landscape is blissful, Francis basks

in the afterglow of some divine happening.

No stigmata, no wound, no bleeding

except perhaps within the saint’s heart?

 

(The lad-turned-angel is identical to the youth

in the painter’s infamous Boy Peeling Fruit.)

 

This is one in a series of poems about the painter Caravaggio

 


Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of several London stanza groups. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition. He won the 2021 Poets And Players Competition judged by Sean Hewitt with his poem Sitting For Caravaggio.

He’s also had poems in The Morning Star, XR’s Rebel Talk, Riptide Journal, Finished Creatures Magazine and the first few issues of The Alchemy Spoon. He is one of four poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. Read more at https://www.julianbishoppoet.com.

The Argument Of His Painting – Julian Bishop

 

After Robert Herrick

 

I think of tainted saints, unseemly Madonnas,

Bacchus hung over, artichokes in butter,

dirt-caked soles, two mop-headed angels

coupling, Jesus and Cecco baring all.

 

I paint in bone-black, bloody vermillion,

backdrops of ochre and black, umbers that burn,

throw in hasty halos, Gentileschi’s feathers,

water-snakes and corpses hauled from the Tiber.

 

I picture Paul being floored, John’s head severed,

Matthew tethered, Lazarus resolutely dead

and Goliath, beheaded, gasping for air –

deft self-portraits of violent despair.

Painted or unpainted, in every picture

I’m a spectator, the spectre who’s always there.

 

This is one in a series of poems about the painter Caravaggio

 


Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of several London stanza groups. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition. He won the 2021 Poets And Players Competition judged by Sean Hewitt with his poem Sitting For Caravaggio.

He’s also had poems in The Morning Star, XR’s Rebel Talk, Riptide Journal, Finished Creatures Magazine and the first few issues of The Alchemy Spoon. He is one of four poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. Read more at https://www.julianbishoppoet.com.