“The Neon Jungle” © Edward Michael Supranowicz


Eight Leos

When my first daughter
was born July 27,
my father planted a tree
and said, “Study Pope Leo VIII.”

A planet-struck astrologer wrote
“Rachael has eight Leos in her chart
like Leo VIII, Antipope for a year.”

I understood the pine tree
standing now at 45 years
not the eight Leos
nor the Pope from a no-church father.

Leo VIII was Antipope 963 to 964.
and good Pope 964 to till 969 death.
A Cancer with eight Leos in his chart.

I wondered were there wilted trees that made
Leo VIII Antipope or just politics?
Will my girl be Black anti-daughter
and then good daughter
when the evergreen tree dies?

John XII made the papal treasury his wallet,
though he opened a brothel he and cardinals frequented
and he was killed by a husband he cuckolded.
John XII was Pope, never antipope.

Nor was there an antipope like Boniface VIII
who practiced threesomes with
          two men,
          a cardinal and wife,
          a mother and daughter.

Did Leo VIII
          practice bestiality like Benedict IX?
          make his street urchin lover a cardinal like Julius III?
          hold open air orgies like Alexander VI?
Was his body riddled with syphilis scars like Julius II?

Did an antipope die in bed with
          a pageboy like Paul II?
          his nephew lover like Sixtus IV?
          his son’s wife like Leo X?
          his mistress’ daughter like Sergius III?

If Leo VIII is the sole antipope,
and then a good Pope.
What was the transformation?
Why did my father mention him?
What does eight Leos mean anyway?

Those damn roaring
eight Leos
run the family.


Dr. Scott W. Williams is the creator of the websites Mathematicians of the African Diaspora and African American History of Western New York. He has lectured on 4 continents. This century his original poetry and/or flash fiction have appeared in seven magazines, six anthologies and three newspapers.

Edward Michael Supranowicz has had artwork and poems published in the US and other countries. Both sides of his family worked in the coalmines an

d steel mills of Appalachia.