The old words of a time that still is yet to come
Beneath monks’ cowls old news is now a whispered mumble.
The gulping cardinals let peacock fillets tumble
down their wide-open gullets. Darkly sparkling wine
shimmers in golden goblets which could melt down fine.
Faith’s topazes and rubies are held on to tightly
by feeble hands. On unlit roads couriers nightly
race back and forth on foam-flecked horses at great speed.
And unknown women’s faces gleam and then recede
out in the fens. From outposts nothing yet forthcoming
of new reports since paid-off soldiers after coming
home have related strange abnormal incidents
at night. And miracles that have no precedents
are quoted by provincial prelates such as tales
of one new-born whose neck was fully clad with scales,
a flash of lightning which struck straight into a grave,
communion wine turned sour, a broken bishop’s stave,
a calf that had two heads and statues that would bleed.
For facts there is no need if fear you wish to feed
of something nigh. Disasters all end up foretold
with books of prophets so construed as to uphold
what’s really random, but designed to fit your fear.
At sacrificial feasts the angel won’t appear.
A corpse will still remain what’s found upon day three.
The stag which in a dream our emperor could see
had ordinary antlers, on which was no sign.
No knight e’er sought and found the grail to have as shrine.
The only thing that was and is and is to be
is sheer indifference. One who misguidedly
connects things, in star’s stillness sees a guiding light
and would find hidden meaning in a meteorite.
Since earth is in sun’s orbit on the far-flung plains
of a vast soulless universe, here practice reigns,
the folios all crumble, gold’s mere chinking gilt,
about oil war’s declared, a worldwide web is built
that reads the thoughts of all who have consumer roles
deemed suitable and who migrate towards the poles
from the equator but now flee to climes less loyal
and cool. The ploughman in the foreground tills the soil
and no one sees the fall of Icarus. Cocksure,
with wax-glued techno-wings, thermals of hubris bore
him sunwards until all the wax did melt, thus freeing
him first from prison, afterwards from his own being.
The plougher ploughed on through the loose and lumpish earth,
since for the ploughman myths had little or no worth.
They were cack-handed hobbies. Time was just a plot
that him and his traditions wilfully had shot
to ribbons. That he’d read of on the Internet,
just check it out. And now he felt he ought to fret
that they would try to take his bollocks at one pull.
He’d counted them – he wouldn’t let them pull the wool
and every day made sure he turned the clock hands back
one day. The final stage-coach leaving on the track
out from the palace through the Teutoburger Wald
to steer well clear of pitchforks brought the crown of gold
to the secluded secret place where the last king
would hide away and the whole farcical last fling
majestically would sit out to the end. With crown
and show of power he’d be sure to calm folk down
and, brilliantly lit up by nearby farms ablaze,
return to his own palace using country ways.
Apparently the stage-coach failed in its intention –
for of his majesty there is no further mention.
From all one violently feels one has to feel
and all one groundlessly believes there seemed to steal
a humble kind of hoping that costs mystery
and well-intended faith in love that sets one free.
Blood must become more fluid. What is needed still
is little less than a small miracle to fill
a loss with meaning, single-handed to protect
all order from sheer chaos, likewise to deflect
barbaric hordes from marching on the Papal Palace,
where evil cardinals in conclave, full of malice
and indecisiveness, their bloodied knuckles break
on dogmas about Judgment Day and how to take
the maybe, maybe not expected sign. The night
is long and secretive. Something awaited might
be sought in shadows, behind pillars. Babes are crying.
Each day gaunt cattle’s bruised more and looks close to dying,
processions of poor penitents lash backs with thorns
from north to south. The stench of truth both calls and warns
in spite of any changing types of known conviction.
And while the choir through chants seeks to avoid affliction
with trembling lips, the prelate mumbles almost dumb
the old words of a time that still is yet to come.