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NOVEMBER 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 11



Melissa Speights


Gary Meadows

WARD KELLEY, a national hardware wholesaler from Indianapolis, has published 288 pieces since 1996 including work in Potpourri and Skylark. He is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine.


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INDEX: At the Gates of Purgatory | The Four Who Burned


At the Gates of Purgatory

Here at the gates of Purgatory,
here at the entrance to my conscience,
here where I dance, here where I cower...
it is not at all clear what this life
expected of my soul.

How does one know, except
by some elusive intuition,
some whisperings from another life?
I will come forth to do this task,
I will refine the soul by pounding,
pounding on those aspects
that need to be forged...

And this is the way out of Purgatory,
I must allow a release, I must
discontinue my own control,
and allow the prayers to flow
inward toward my own soul...

this is the way, you know,
this is the way of those who
would think to pound,
and this is something you do
not choose, no, instead it seeks
out your own soul and makes you
do its bidding ...

and you are willing, willing.

The Four Who Burned

In the early 14th century, a sect of the Franciscan Order, called the Spiritual Franciscans, was formed. The new sect advocated a return to strict poverty, fasting and celibacy. Seen as a protest against the widespread carnality of the clergy, the sect soon incurred the displeasure of powerful religious authorities. In 1318, a particularly stubborn group of Spiritual Franciscans were tried by the Inquisition, and four of them burned at the stake in Marseille.

There is only one way to gain victory
over the flesh, and that is to deny
the body everything it craves,
to starve out every desire of the flesh,
to where, at last, weakened and cowed,
it will listen to reason.

And in this manner, we attempted
to imitate our savior, who also
spurned the temptations of the world,
and then we learned, thirteen centuries
after Christ's execution, those same forces
that drive man to forever slay the Meek
have also decided our own deaths.

Save us, save us,
the fires slice our skin,
and we burn, we burn...

but only save us from
this terrible desire
to yell out for mercy,
as we burn, we burn...

we cannot be saved from death,
but only saved from crying
out for mercy from those
who persecute us with flames...

and the flesh torments us to the end.