CANTO XXX1 (begins here)
The black robes are shamed,
the Host is exposed to fire,
all the churches of Ireland
have been burnt to the ground.
The people are eating the bishops,
spitting out gristle,
every rosary beads has been snapped,
the altarwine used to marinade
tongues slashed out.
I saw one priest survive
as the Archbishop was given a last chance
to understand his tears wouldn’t well:
he offered his testicles,
tried to reason with the victim of the mass kidnapping
his brothers had orchestrated.
Before they were wiped out,
the nuns took confession,
they knew the words by heart,
knew that penance was auto-generated.
Many of the priests went rushing to eternal damnation shouting
"I desire Limbo, re-invent it.
Hell is too good for my soul,
I’ve been Lucifer’s minister,
sent by Beelzebub,
child of the unthinkable,
I knew we made bishops of savage men
who were never baptised
except by the water of the gutter.
Burn me. I too knew bishops
were promoted to lead the Ring,
we invented a method of snuffing out your children’s games
because we loved the passion of envy,
the stations of the tosspot.
We were inspired by the joy of pain,
the ritual of flagellation,
Opus Dei was but a secret society,
a fall-guy, a handy distraction
to deflect attention from our true vocation.
John Charles McQuaid claimed
he’d discussed his mental reservation
with Michael Collins and Winston Churchill,
we knew it was Dev he was pulling the crozier on."
All the Oblates died quickly,
Christian Brothers claimed they weren’t priests
but no one swallowed that.
Who saw the nun rubbing incense
into the skin of parish priest in Donegal
before he was fried alive in goose fat?
All the clergy that had stayed silent
were given the option of being dunked in honey
and fed to specially starved pigs,
or being fed little rats bred to feed on intestines.
I saw a convent dedicated to smoked priest
on apple wood.
There are no faithful now,
the Book of Kells was a casualty.
"Bring back the Catechism", the young ones cried.
"We’ll write the answers this time."
The crowd insisted no guillotine was used:
hanging, drawing and quartering
was the merciful way to go:
only the most recent convents
were granted this privilege.
It was as if Dante was a stroll in the park,
and Job beset by a minor irritant,
this was pure savage,
shock and awe,
Munch’s Scream cubed
to the power of ten
to the power of the number of stars
that chatter in the night sky.
could do it justice.
That happened, after Prime Time,
on the national television station.
The only religious staff left in Ireland after that
were Reverend Mothers and their Sisters.
An awful lot of them knitted their way
through the Reign of Terror
- the Rising of the Moon
as it came to be called.
"Is there anyone there?" said the Strangler,
Flopping against the back of the pub;
And his car on the corner its engine off,
Clamped, the tax not paid.
And a crow flew up and out of the eaves
Above the stranglers head.
And he rose against the door again a second time
"Is there anyone there?" he said.
But no one attended to the Strangler
- it was past closing time
and they locked the world outside.
The business of dividing the spoils had begun.
One less would be no harm.
"We are the honest men
We are the purchased men
Half-casts filled with pride. Alas!
Our wise voices, when
We present together
Are loud and meaningful
As sand in hour-glass
Or stag’s feet over bracken leaves
In our grand estate.
Tone without edge, plumes without flow
Sustaining force, character with style;
Those who have passed
With suspect eyes, to life’s lesser wealth
Forget us - if only - known as soft
Genteel souls , but never
As the honest men
The purchased men."
A tall fellow from Offaly,
in a pin-striped suit,
fresh from the gym,
He played with the cigar in his left pocket
and gently stroked the slight trace of growth
from the long day he’d had
on the phone to his broker.
"Although it is a fierce evening
down by one of the horseboxes,
an old jock sits tending his boots,
in the shadows almost invisible
a tricolour shirt
and his racing stick with lost tong.
I tell you this depression is the new black."
(Canto 31 to be continued later)