CANTO XX1 (begins here)
On a mountain in Kerry sits a woman
driven only by money,
she’ll not move her arse, unless you pay her
for the privilege.
visible on a clear day
from the beehive hut
on Skellig Michael,
she counts the stones,
in case the birds have swooped.
She lives on the juice of fushia,
sleeps on montbretia stalks,
rests only on lambswool
she;s shorn herself.
Her favourite drink is distilled
from bull’s blood,
mixed curds and whey.
She’s an icon,
too fierce for Lisdoonvarna,
every day she surfs McCarthy home
in her dreams…
Maybe she’s the one to consult?
It’s said she tells the story of the god
that sifted earth through a strainer
and threw the Skelligs into the Atlantic,
off the Kingdom’s coast.
A third cousin twice removed to Hydra,
a Peloponnesian beauty,
it’s said she was once impregnated
by a ram from Delphi.
She’s holding a key
stolen from the oracle
in the Park, the longfella.
My best friend Homer Simpson
brought his family to visit her,
she blamed him for the fall of Troy,
the death of Paris,
the kidnap of Helen,
and the failure of Odysseus
to get back in time
to spare his wife from disgrace.
This is no wife of O’Donoghue,
this is one of the species
that lives to battle.
No Queensbury rules here,
bareknuckles rules her ring.
She’s eaten all the honest men she’s found,
so Kerry’s denuded,
and the women she’s fried
on the fires of Santorini
during the night.
Monks terrified she’d swim out to them
and force their virginity on her.
Everyman’s nightmare, a Mrs Hyde
craving to be ravished,
she hears the confessions of priests
from the Dublin Archdiosese,
young men born into the vocation,
incarnate youths captivated
by the gutteral tone:
Hoc Est Enim Corpus Meam.
Give me your body, let me taste your blood.
Boys taken into a seminary,
some from penuary,
some to free their brother
to inherit the farm,
lads put to scrubbling stoneflags
with icy water in December,
mortified their flesh,
hearts gouged of pride,
like a filly broken-in
to the institutionalisation of desire.
Taught the ceremony of the bugger
by an older priest,
a father figure,
a godhead that offered a little taste
of hell on earth,
so that the Last Judgement
might have a suitable rehearsal.
Those faithful kids entered
the apostolic virtueland,
believing the soul stained with Original Sin,
convinced they were in for salvation.
The first rule they learned
was the Law of Obedience:
question and sin,
do as I show unto you
follow the leader,
make your parents proud of you, for once,
be consecrated with a power
to make all bend a knee to your hand,
and open their legs to your desire.
Be a bit of a Lord.
Bring little children with you
into the Garden,
give each a crown of thorns,
rape their body
and their minds.
Suffer little children to come unto you
in the sacristy,
in their grandmothers’ parlour,
in the back of your Morris Minor.
Show them the sperm of Salvation,
and shut them up
with the promise of exposure.
We are all liars,
petty little criminals.
Teach them the fear of disbelief,
expose young people to the beauty
of a sinning mind,
and the miracle of the flesh
Filthy little buggers,
bring them the epistles of Paul,
the Gospel of John,
the four horsemen of apocalyptic vision,
redemption through suffering.
Joyce’s Jesuit would have understood,
and denied all.
"Bless me father for I have sinned"
- anyone who can’t remember sins to confess
can make them up.
All is sin, we are creators of a sinful world,
all we do is sin.
So when I sin with you,
we are both sinners before the Cross.
All sins are equal before Christ,
so what’s so bad
about a little bit of torture.
Wasn’t our Saviour himself
tortured unto death,
and didn’t he emerge victorious:
resurrected, ascended - if you like.
You, my child, prepare yourself
for the pain of crucifixion,
so that you might be taken down
from the Cross
into a tomb, to suffer in silence.
"Into thy hands I commend my spirit
- I’ll go silently back to the house of my father,
my tongue sacrificed
on the altar of your orgasmic need for submission.
I’ll spend the years wandering with shame in my knapsack,
I’ll leave Ireland on a boat to Holyhead.
I can dig ditches, lay tar for McAlpine.
You can move from parish to parish,
saving souls, ministering to the sick,
a pillar of the community,
revered by the Sisters.
"These are my sins…
- and for my penance, I’ll recite
three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys
and three Glory Bes,
all my life, in every cold bed,
in every damp sheet.
Meanwhile, you are vital to your Church,
a true soldier of Christ,
confirmed in your addiction to the power
of the body and blood,
ordained to lead,
known to your friends as a butcher
of innocent limbs.
Is it any wonder you didn’t become an alcoholic
or wife-beater, or lover of prostitutes?
Remember me, I wish I could not
An old bald stoop shuffled forward,
rosary beads pressed
into the flesh of the palm,
it was his turn to confess.
"Bless me Mother, for I have sinned,
it is 40 years since I last made a good Confession.
These are my sins."
"Before you open your mouth,
I know you. I have watched
your deepest thoughts,
I have seen every one.
How can you be sorry?"
"Is my face not sufficient?"
"You have the look of a mountain goat
with mange. You are the child of bishops:
‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’
Isn’t that what I smell off you!"
"I am sorry.
I want to confess,
will you not hear my Confession?"
"The words, you want to give me words…
Take down your trousers,
I’ll give you a knife for penance,
I’ll watch you make contrition,
and commit a miracle."
"I want to be forgiven."
The old Kerry woman put on her Medusa look:
"I want to see the colour of your soul,
the one you’ve carried around
under the Archbishops.
Take up your blade. Cut your penis off.
Eat your testicles, and chew them forty times,
swallow the lot.
Then tell me you’re sorry."
The priest fainted when he heard his sentence.
She poured his piss from a cob,
cooled with the frost of morning.
As the first eye winced,
she defecated into his open mouth:
"I am here to remind you of the pleasures from your flesh,
the joy you brought to those who served your Mass,
your penance has begun."
The boy who served his parents pride
vomited into the field,
the whole body of the woman
towered over him,
as if she was one big bad breast
of sour milk.
Dante, you were a mild writer of punishment:
our holy man of Ireland
would cross the Styx a thousand times
rather than face this woman
with her hairy cunt pressing down
to suffocate him.
Oh, he wished he could wake up dead,
and, if that wasn’t possible,
he wished he was dead to death.
(end of Canto 21)