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after the painting “Jonah” by James Patrick Reid

Ready to swallow the fallen, the sea swells. 
“The waters want me,” Jonah cries, 
running, running, always running away. Called 

to Nineveh, he fled the other way. Holed 
up on a ship with his tempest of lies, 
the fallen one is ready to be swallowed. The sea swells. 

O great whale arise, each tooth a sword 
aimed at the deserter. City and ship compromised, 
the man’s running, running, always running away. Called 

by the God we’re fleeing, like Jonah, we’re swallowed whole. 
A mercy, this digestion of grace. Internalized, 
we’re readied to swallow our fallenness. See how guilt swells 

to epiphany and penance, here in the beast’s belly.  
In the foul cavern of ribs, Spirit swims in to evangelize   
the one running, running, always running away; He calls 

and claims His own for three dark days, until captor expels 
its captive, resurrection prophesized for the capsized, 
the ready. Here, the fallen swallowed, mercy swells 
always, the savior still running, running, running toward. Calling. 

Finalist for the Sacred Arts Poetry Contest sponsored by Catholic Literary Arts

Image: “Jonah Cast into the Sea” by James Patrick Reid (used with permission)

Marjorie Maddox

Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetr­­­­­y Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist)Local News from Someplace Else;Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry,Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems ,I’m Feeling Blue, Too!Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Forthcoming in 2022 is her book Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press), as well as her ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts, 2021). For more information, please see