They say the world is emptied of its ghosts,
That the gods have walked into the desert,
Ratty backpacks sweaty at the shoulder straps,
Bandanas firmly tied.
They say the prophets have laid down their cards,
Given up their entrails, their locusts, and since
The honeybees are dying - what's the point?
The last great ship has sunk, been eulogized, fetishized,
Rediscovered, pilfered, built again in effigy, populated by celebrities,
Condemned to the sterility of memory, and sails no more.
And the saints are in the coffee shop
Drinking up their morning miracles,
Licking out their cups
So as not to waste a drop, a dram, a dreg of holiness
On this undeserving world.
All but Nellie Bly.
Saint Nellie Bly wears her checkered suit -
The one she travels in -
Carries just a single case
Its handle grooved from her grip.
She has a flame in her eyes like Joan of Arc,
This She Who Bested Phileas Fogg,
Tested herself against a fiction,
Lived to meet its maker,
And shake his hand in Amiens.
Nellie Bly, beloved of the Earth.
Saint Nellie knows what it is
To circumnavigate a globe sans Internet
And she smiles on our struggles
Without the scorch of cynicism.
Saint Nellie Bly, famous and forgotten,
Exhumed, examined, apotheosized:
O Nellie, in these days of our weariness
When caffeine and an unforgiving work ethic
No longer can sustain us
Look on us with gentleness.
Look on us with gentleness, Saint Nellie.
Look on us with radiant decision.
Look on us with eyes that burn away excuses.
Take us by the t-shirt collars,
Holler in our ears.
O hear us, Nellie Bly, and kiss away
Our fear of failure.
Set upon our frowning brows
The daybreak of horizon, this gorgeous dawn,
And we will wear you like a pin on our lapels,
Like a medal 'round our necks,
Like a lucky thumb ring.
The reward for living large is a useful sort of deathlessness.
We hope you do not mind.
And, in our turn?
We will repay in kind.
This prayer, poem and paean is for Ms. "The Dread" Patty Templeton, who is to finish her novel in 6 days.
Patty told me the other night, "I talk about you always as My Friend Claire. People tell me, I know she's your friend. You don't have to keep saying it. I think I say it because I am so proud to be your friend."
Pattyhawk, you move me. I don't know how we all deserve each other in this world. I will try always to be worthy of your hand in friendship.
Go get 'em, tiger.