Brother Sebastian's Friend by Adrian Slonaker

Clouds like clods of cosmic clay clustered

over the imposing stone monastery

and gardens splashing neon hues against

the stern chestnut robe of the Roman-nosed Franciscan

when the punkish painter with the plastic

crucifix pendant and pale purple eyes

peered past a spiral-bound sketchbook

where she practiced impressions of her

“brother-in-arms.”

Sixteen days and seven hours later,

a fortnight after she’d shaved her head

and purchased a pair of charity shop combat boots,

she whispered those words into his

left ear, her husky tone trapped between his head

and the hedgerow,

harnessing him to a dreamlike quandary

and an improbable peace never produced

by vespers or matins.

As sweat permeated his armpits,

their astringent scent sating the artist’s nostrils,

a tattooed arm fumbled against famine-stricken fingers.

Half-coherent curiosities and clumsy caresses

enabled an engine long dormant

as the monk meandered over the limit,

unaware of what pleasure

or penance awaited him.


Adrian Slonaker zigzags back and forth across the Canadian/ US border and works as a copywriter and copy editor. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in Pangolin Review, Aerodrome, WINK: Writers in the Know, and others. He is fond of rain, wrestling, owls, folkrock music and long chats with charmingly eccentric folks.

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