Lambskin Parchment: A poem

Get thee behind me Emmanuel.
The gates of perdition are edged with pearl and gilt.
Beneath the altar, relics of my innocence;
Spilt wine, consecrated dripping from stigmatic hands.
Ex cathedra I exhume the execration.
Censor your thurible, no incense shrouds
The reeking entrails worn around your neck.
The holy lie, forbidden fruit tastes sweet;
But vengeance all the sweeter in the cold.

Dies irae, dies illa,
Solvet saeclum in favilla.

I speak no evil, though of evil speak;
A flayed conclave, in virgin flesh enrobed.
Shamed light through sin-stained window steals,
An arrow accusatory descends.
Six points of blood upon the marble floor,
As eyes of doves are plucked by crows.
Secrets of the sacristy in shattered silence torn,
No hell severe enough, no heaven to forgive.
Aish tamid burn it all.


  1. A poem I wrote in 2009.

    Fatal essence

    Pure essence of Christianity would kill:
    The distillation of the whirr of angels’ wings,
    Pale virgins’ breath on the frosty air of winter,
    Essence of scratchy clothes and scraped-back hair,
    The blood of an innocent admixed with thwarted lives,
    And the keen gaze of the theologian:
    No, this must be administered homeopathically
    In the sacraments — killing by degrees
    those who would die to the world and live in Christ.
    They take up the cross and cannot see past it
    to the beauty of the world, each blade of grass
    Pulsing with divinity.
    No, my friend,
    You are too human, too animal
    to partake of that subtle poison.
    You do not smell of the charnel house,
    but of the soft animal scent at the nape of the neck.

    11.06.09, 8:45 am

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant. I once went to a poetry reading where the poet said: the great poems are either love poems or curse poems. There is a lot of power in the words of your poem. It speaks a secret language those outside the Catholic faith might not fully appreciate. I grew up in that world but no longer participate. Some of it I loved but it was a complicated affair. Does anyone encourage their sons and daughters to be priests and nuns today? I think not. And that can only mean that world will pass away. Your poem’s promise completed. Part of me regrets that inevitability. Part of me rejoices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not thought of it that way, but it rings true. This one’s definitely a curse poem, I’ve been reading the latest abuses by priests in the news, and it all came out as a rage-poem. I also grew up in that milleu, was an altar boy, wanted to be a priest, the whole works. There were good people and good memories too, and I got to travel and do exciting things I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to thanks to church stuff, but the bad outweighs the good for me, in the long term at least. I share your twinge of regret that the church seems to be fading, it was a profound influence on me, but I am also glad to see the corruption exposed and (hopefully) brought to an end.

      Liked by 1 person

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