in memory of Kevin Calegari, who died of

AIDS on February 12, 1995 in San Francisco

Romanum Pontificem in rebus fidei
et morum definiendis errare non posse

Our senior year, how did you pick out me
to be your friend? I’m straight. Your Catholic faith
escapes me, and I thought your plan to be
a priest was folly. And I’d all but tell you,

then stop, because there’d been that liberal pope
who’d lived for thirty days in Rome and died
too soon–just long enough to start the joke
that his successor’s name would sanctify

the last two Beatles. And you would have been
a great priest. Catholic and Protestant
you brought your theses to the Vatican
and, glorious, nailed them to St. Peter’s door

in answer to the pope’s encyclical
proclaiming love of men for men was sin.
In Rome, you were the holy criminal.
At home, you were a hero dying young.

And had I known in time, I would have come,
and, unbelieving, I would have elected
to stand in the rain outside the funeral home
to watch for your white smoke, my dear George Ringo.

Kevin Hearle is the author of Each Thing We Know Is Changed Because We Know It, and Other Poems. He is also the author, editor, and co-editor of a number of works on California literature, and a visiting scholar at the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University.

*Photo courtesy of xiquinhosilva.