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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Medieval Phenomenon Kills Priest

                    was how one rag reported it.
                    The papers had a feast.
My wedding day - not that you'd have noticed it, and might
                    have struggled with the concept anyway.
                    My union, my life's most blissful day...

First stripping myself naked, ripping off my cassock,
                    shoes, socks, cincture... but leaving all...
                    how blissful friend, would that have been?
Had you been there you would have wanted answers, I am sure.
                    Understanding of my nakedness.
                    No mystery. The clothes I wear express
the being I put on. Removing them exposes he who sins,
                    who must abase himself before his great
                    obsession, his High Queen of Heaven.

A lizard slithering on rock made hot by noon-day sun, was I.
                    Each flint and cinder tearing at my flesh,
                    I hauled my prostrate form uphill
to kneel before my mistress, slime and mud baked hard
                    on me like excrement and blood
                    on the new born. (Re-born, let's say.)

From deep beside the plinth, an imprint of a young nun's face
                    stared up at me, its every attribute distinct
                    ... also her wimpole and a jagged mole -
all made before the concrete set. I left mine in a mix of mud
                    and guano next to hers. And no, my friend,
                    I didn't hear the buzzing, for by then
great love was imminent, more so than ever I’d imagined.
                    My head was bowed, my busy lips
                    bestowing kisses on my lady's feet.
I was transported far from sight and sound, and therefore did
                    not see the swarm of bees, much less
                    its angel shape or details worked there-in:
the angel's wings, the halo, long-tailed whip... and yes,
                    I felt the bee stings, sure I did - assumed
                    They were my lady's scourge, that some
degree of foreplay was coming into play - had I but known,
                    and knowing of my allergy to bees...

                    But going into shock... that did for me.
Then when they came to wash me after death.....
                    not one sting to be seen, my back a mass
                    of weals and lacerations from a whip.

The story soon got out, of course. The flagellants behind me
                    saw it all, the stings not least. Then came
                    the tourists behind them - squadrons
of Japanese with telephoto lenses, selling stories on.
                    The whole damned world saw all of it -
                    the whole damned world save me!
And yes, some papers seemed to spread it over every page,
                    but that was not the half of it:
                    you could not browse the web without
some guy had caught my agony with camera or phone -
                    and don't forget the stuff stacked high
                    and deep on U-tube, Face Book
and the rest, and all the thousands buzzing like those bees
                     - all clamouring and hammering for facts.
                    The whole world turns on facts these days,
but clunkily... Want me to tell you why? A clue: have you
                    not noticed, friend, the way the saints
                    were driven on by feelings not by facts?

You want to know what finally confounded me? Discovering
                    the treasured one did not exist. Had not
                    for centuries, was vandalised, a wreck
cut off above the knees. Yet I had seen her thighs, her belly,
                    breasts and head ascending - soaring - to
                    the clouds. I could not cope with that.


steven said...

hi dave! what a journey that was . . . . wow! first thing in the morning for me so a heck of a wake up . . . . i loved it!! have a peaceful day. hope the stings heal!!! steven

Dave King said...

Thanks for that Steven. It's only at night they bother me!

Titus said...

Astonishing, Dave. I don't think I want to say any more than that!

Dave King said...

Understood. Over and out.

Tess Kincaid said...

Wow, Dave. Powerful, indeed. Brilliant piece.

Dave King said...

For that, much thanks.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't count the times I've ripped off my cassack. Threw dust on my head too. And don't get me started on my sackcloth wardrobe.

Stephen Tremp

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

I think I might join Willow in a "Wow"! If only I were clever enough to see all that you wish to convey!

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

Dave, I within the eye of this storm - the ultimate nakedness - the ultimate bearing - the ultimate confront and resolve.

An expression not too distant from one I have posted this very day at APOGEE Poet - realms of BEING... "Above Earth's Plains."

The Weaver of Grass said...

I am struck dumb Dave - and it takes a lot to do that!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Dave, this poem is surprising and alluring. Great final lines. I really enjoyed it. Whatever is its source or just your imagination you have found another, new, strong voice here.


hmmmmm........i don't think i'm even gonna start where i was going to go! :)

Friko said...

Dave, I would love to say I understand what you are saying, but I can't because I don't. The imagery is fantastic, the music is great but do I really see a fallen priest? Or am I just too thick to get it?
I have an email button just above the Shakespeare now.
No other commentator is putting me out of my misery either, no one is saying what they read.

Carl said...


In a word STUNNING. Amazing imagery. You are making me remember why I liked poetry so much when I was younger. I am going back to read that one again. The complete commitment to an illusion and being helpless when confronted with it. I don't understand all of it, but what a powerful poem.


Barry said...

I'm in awe of this poem, its imagery, its language and the ending....

Your posts are a treasure Dave--and a constant delightful surprise.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Very cool.

Karen said...

Dave - I agree with those before me here. This is astonishing! I love every bit of this.

readingsully2 said...

Too deep for me. :)

Dick said...

A powerful, almost hallucinatory piece that draws the spiritual storms of the Middle Ages into the 21st century. Impressive, stuff, Dave.

Ronda Laveen said...

Dave, I'm not sure "why" yet (I'll have to come back and read and read again, but this is one of my favorite pieces of yours to date.

Julie Kertesz - me - moi - jk said...

Stunning - and this is the first thing I read from you - for the moment.

But... even if I do go, and you do make us, made me in any case go there, be with the YOU described all the way - until the 'you' died. Then, it became suddenly unbelievable, how someone who did die could write about it?

I personally never found being undressed as sinful or making or wanting to make love either.

I did understand the bees, found it funny even - then the flagellants appeared from nowhere suddenly, and you lost me. I am sure you know a lot more then I can understand with my cultural background.

Great work and thoughts!

Dave King said...

I'd never have thought it of you - but then you just never know with people!

I guess I did get a bit carried away. It maybe needed an editor - but I'll still take the Wow if the offer's not been withdrawn!

I shall be over there to see forthwith! Thanks for the comment.

The Weaver of Grass
Not the reaction I would have wished for - ambiguous, no?

Thank you for the kind remarks. There was a source, if source you can call it. A music teacher telling the class that flagellants were the masochists of their day. The connection was made and there has been unfinished business ever since which at this late stage I thought I would try to resolve.

HMMMMMMMMM, I could say you have started... how can you stop now? You've got me all agog!

If it helps, I don't think I fully understand it, which may sound strange, but my reply to Tommaso may make it seem less so. And yes, I've noticed that the others are keeping a bit stum, too!

The complete commitment to an illusion and being helpless when confronted with it. I think you have grabbed the essential starting point with that sentence. Sincere thanks for your generous comment.

My thanks for that very gracious compliment. It is both gratifying and helpful.

Thanks for that. Nice comment!

Thanks for yet another kind comment.

Don't believe it. The depth is only skin deep!

I see what you are saying, but I had not thought of it that way. Thanks for the slant. Interesting.

That surprises me slightly - and gratifies me greatly.

Welcome to my blog Julie. Good to have you aboard.
Would it help if I said I had a great aunt who died and came round in the morge? There is an escape hatch (if you want one) in the mention of shock. The flagellants just happened to be visiting the site, as were the tourists. But I didn't write it thinking that it necessarily had to be capable of a logical translation. Hope that helps. After that, I'm in unknown territory, too!



Tara McClendon said...

You capture in a phrase the ability to invoke emotion. Nicely done.

Carl said...


OK. If I found the starting point now I'm gonna dig in and for another few passes. I get another glimpse on each try. I really like poetry that challenges me either in language or context. You never fail at either.

Dave King said...

Thanks for that. Glad to have your comment.

A really kind comment. Thanks.

I too like poetry that challenges, but I am coming to see - and not just from your comments - that I made this one more challenging than I intended. Probably needed a bit more work done on it!

Carl said...

Listen to your voice. Let your pen go where it goes. We'll catch up. It's worth it.


Andy Sewina said...

Phew, this is loaded!

Just trying to catch up!!

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