The New Francis

Passing the St. Francis House,
a refuge for the homeless
in Gainesville, Florida, I see
near the entrance a stone
statue of the favorite of animals

and in his open hand
(the other rests on the head
of a doe) a few folded
pieces of paper as if he were
offering them to passersby.

Curious to see either
a Franciscan prayer
I must have known in my fervent
Catholic boyhood or some other
piety attributed to him,

I take one as I go by and find
it’s a wallet-sized pamphlet,
“Condom Use Instructions,”
complete with line-drawings
and detailed commentary taking

the reader through every step
from tumescence to clean-up.
Pity the birds who land
looking for seed
in the outstretched hand.

Philip Dacey