Stepping On Snails

Dead snail bones sun bleached in

clump cluster congregations of

ten thousands times ten thousands

on dried stalks of reed weeds

prickle perched as bulbous growths

on branches spread like bronchioles

in the field around the ancient ruins

of Salamis in the summer slowness

and scattered scores on the dirt below

a civilization crunching

collapsed under my feet.  

January rains had soaked the soil

and spring rays warmed the mud

that spat out splay sprig plant specimens

and hatched the slimy may society

that began their climb to the ends

of the sprawling spontaneous weeds

until the gradual change of seasons

septembered them unawares

emptying ambiguous ambition

into unpurposed pillars supporting

the memory of a city once alive.

Make Me An Icon

Make me an icon in a grey stone house

Sacred colors brushed onto grainy wood

Panels imparted with truth and presence

Opened toward the fire in a living room.

Write me with peace on my face but not tired

A flash of gold in the background alone

To brighten a Spirit beam bringing life

To the rugged beige island around me.

Give me a robe, maybe faded maroon

With a little blue on the inside showing

And a deep brown espresso extended

To weary worshippers and connoisseurs.

Can my ringed fingers form the name of Christ

Blessing and proclaiming as true saints do

No flaming dragon but maybe a cat

Reaching for compassion and finding it?

Paint with the color of faithfulness wild

Unmercenary love untamed inspired

To add life to the living and trying

And to the dying a reason for faith

The Wall They Say Isn’t Theirs

It is the wall that holds back the chaos

sea that trembles with the dark and threatens

with dread tentacles, teeth, and disorder

to consume the land and every boundary

should the deep primordial dam give way

The philosophers raise their palms toward

its stones of pure reason great and gray

and held in place by knowledge of truth,

cognizing the structure of the ordered

world that edges toward uncreation

Whenever contradictions are embraced

by wavering fools in shifting houses

mortar’s bind loosens in the far stone wall-

the ignorant spell sounding out, their words

enchanting it with crumbling weaknesses

The philosophers have given up

persuading the masses to lift their hands

To add to the strength of cohering thought,

Resigned to offset unreason themselves

And hold up for us what should not fall

They didn’t build the wall and couldn’t have

set the limits and bars to halt the waves

but paradox strengthens souls that attend

to dilemma in discipline and depth

as a spirit hovers over waters.

Ryan Keating is a writer, pastor, and winemaker on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. His work can be found or is forthcoming in publications such as Saint Katherine Review, Ekstasis Magazine, Amethyst Review, Box, Dreich, and Miras Dergi, where he is a regular contributor in English and Turkish.