Lantern Review | Issue 7.2

Brandon Shimoda

San Xavier

San Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta in 16th-century Spain, was the first Jesuit missionary in Japan. He entered through Kagoshima, August 15, 1549, and proselytized for two years, with little success. A wooden effigy of San Xavier sleeps in a glass coffin in the San Xavier Mission on the Tohono O’odham reservation south of Tucson, Arizona.

“Harris's Hawk” by Jenna Le

Jenna Le

Harris's Hawk
Ink drawing, 2018

The white cross on the hill of rocks
is a house without light
over the greenest fields in the valley

The virgin, embedded in rocks,
prepared the white cross
with the attributes of lightlessness
that illuminate subterranean life

where the cross enters earth
children lay flowers

the cross turns at night
into snakes


The wooden effigy of San Xavier
dreams, in his box, of Japan

Houses gleaming with ceramic carnations
mushroom foam on a river

the smell of salt
the fire-caller

grass butterflies animals
grazing insects beneath the rings of Saturn

old men
weaving shields for the funeral

dreams, in his effigial slumber, of the panorama
he conceives
to empty what sustains

No one listened

as he tried and failed
to articulate the word, the one
enfeebling supplication


Dirt-colored birds
fly circles

the cross
painted every so often
as a reminder

is a thick coat

that often stifles
spontaneous expression


I visited San Xavier today. He was sleeping,
surrounded by hundreds of people
in the rictus of their oblivion

marvels carved
in the dun-colored feathers
of solemn Incas

as arbiters of justice
in mouth-like stratospheres

the knuckles of saints
and saints without feet


Religion is not the mold,
but people
who inject themselves into its sanctuaries

at the openings mold begins to foam,
across smaller, more verminous irises

florid spores become,
by virtue of being displaced,
thick plumes of confectionary smoke
rising off the sacrifices
of collective desperation

the brain cannot stop
reciting constellations
connecting the several incarnations of hell
where angels are arraigned, sent


where the snake enters flowers
and rosaries

The white cross
the impermeable mercy

Photo of Brandon Shimoda Brandon Shimoda's recent books include The Desert (The Song Cave, 2018) and an ancestral memoir called The Grave on the Wall (City Lights, 2019). He is currently writing (more often disintegrating) a book on the ongoing afterlife/ruins of Japanese American incarceration. He lives in the desert. • Photo by Kelly Shimoda.

Photo of Jenna Le Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018), which won second place in the Elgin Awards. She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry by the Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition. Her poetry appears in Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and West Branch. Her visual art, including drawings and watercolors, has appeared or is forthcoming in Ad Libitum, Jubilat, and MAI. • Photo by Minhha Nguyen.

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