A Pathogen at Work

This year’s olive crop
is failing across Apulia
as older-than-Christ
groves are uprooted

to break the spread
of the end of the world
for sun-dried farmers
who bear the dark look

of bereaved parents
at their child’s funeral –
as their questions to God
are waved away at mass –

Their pontiff no longer visits
because Rome is burning
with rumours of disease
promulgated by priests


Shrove Tuesday

Shriven into a repentant’s place –
readied for a cross of palm ash –
a marking – tomorrow – of believers –
Yesterday was our early Mardi Gras
of confessions – But we do not follow
those fading rules of others’ liturgies –
We cannot name their Shriving Bell
as they stick it loudly to parishioners –
I was last in a church in Birmingham –
under glass and impressive masonry –
but did I not see the work of God –
Now on this half-holiday we will feast
without you here to guide turned heat –
to sear fat and remnants of shopping –
We have given up everything
to a non-date far beyond Lent’s tests


 

The Ascension – St.Martin in the Bull Ring

Before that art-by-light –
a conceit of Burne-Jones
which is framed within lead –

before the builders’ thrums
from the other side of
that tall story of saints –

commissioned under strict
instruction that it should
bear no oxen –

it was possible to feel
the touch of his brushwork –
of his mixing of skin colours

to be lent them by dipped winter
backlight – as it was designed –
to feel dried paint on my face –

those pigments rear-projected
into a warm kiss of soft gobos –
then my own-ish ascension

into an understanding of being –
under that church’s vaulted height –
My creed warmed – half-confirmed

within that minute of grace –
of time’s fusion of experience
and of being there


 

And Disorderly

He visits lost priests
to mumble-in-vain
for what?
His loose-lip prayers weave
over tremble-woven fingers –

This is the church –
this is the steeple –
look inside
and see the people –

God’s gatekeepers
cannot force the bolts –
not slammed
gavel-struck ones –
so he carries his sentence

out in public spaces
as drunken stumbles –
Ready the stocks
they mutter to others –
He is a convict clapped

in cold iron hobbles –
Of his own bad choices
manacles left visible
to every untrained eye –
they see another barfly


 

The Perpetual Curate

Here lies the poor
perpetual curate –
he lived a low life
on the stipend they paid —

The beneficiary of
a lost monastery lease –
he was appointed to
this chapel-of-ease —

He could not marry
on the wages of God –
with such low standing
he chose to shun love —

Queen Anne’s Bounty
was no saving grace —
He died malnourished –
inhumed in this place


www.mikebellpoems.com
@wordsbell

The Corpse Gate

I called it a tithe gate
but it is a lychgate
I confused it with barns –
my first mistake –

Here are the lost bones
of dead English words –
and here a brutal joinery
hewn by blunt saws –

Here the just-deceased
were propped overnight –
Here guarded ‘gainst theft
by snatchers on the sly –

Laid still – after carriage
on the rough corpse road –
under this shelter
for one night’s repose –

Wood knots – whales watching –
here the whorled grain –
This was not God’s work –
but of man’s own domain

Turns

I returned the ripped heart
of Saint Laurence O’Toole –
canonised post-mortem
for acts whilst entombed

As Archbishop Lorcan
he acted well in hair shirts –
and in shroud-wrapped death
he performed miracle parts

Another found-reliquary –
I gave it back to the nuns
Religion is theatre –
but it’s not the West End

יין אדום

I don’t believe in God
but I think she hears my prayers

I can only hope to touch her face
if she deigns to ever care

We don’t talk much about politics
it bores her more than sex

We drink red wine and compromise
on what is truly meant

I woke to judgement nightmares
and a terror in my heart –

with an empty wine glass by my bed –
that brittle bodyguard

Red Skies

If we stop to look up
at that vast underbelly
of the slow, the turned,
those Gods above us,
struck indolent, stuck,
and expect their help,
a thunderbolt, salt-pillars,
such types of intervention,
we will find no solution:
we are the only gods,
unbelievable as it is.

Early in Uckfield

So, they were gathered early
in their Sunday best
for a christening,

and she said that kids
can be so irritating,
as she sipped coffee in Costa,

and then she complains
about the churches
which let children run wild:

He asks if you can rip a new fiver,
and the man with the plummy voice
jokes about fake Euros.

Then an American accent plays
within this cobbled troop,
with his knowledge of money,

as one of their kids, jacketed,
wanders among the group,
with a straw, Irritating them all.

My Lady of Good Encounter

Benoite, you are not, but still a reader of hearts,
a live angel on Earth, but not the saint of Laus:
that girl watched Christ, she witnessed his passion,
and I watched you undress with stiff absolution:

The lace-pull of perfume took her down from the hill,
whilst here in your thighs I drank from a well:
I saw her people slow-mo into prayer,
the rest fell in agony in that melee.

Benoite was sent to the Valley of Kilns,
by a dark-skinned Saint who worked those hills,
and I fall to sleep on your flattened breast,
as you turn your head and see your own Benoite.

The Witness

They are overshadowed by that evergreen giant,
the one thousand year witness to ceremonies,
to burials, and namings.

Coal was once hoarded where the hollowing
of the yew meets the earth. There, inside God’s tree,
they find a held shelter,

but the air is reduced, taxine within the yew’s
five propped branches, he is hallucinating
as he tastes her,

that passed mead of love, now drugged by her.
Add Odin’s ability to bind and unbind,
and a two millennia lie,

he has no defences left, hung, and crucified
by the centre of her which wets his fingers
in the yew’s compression.

Stephen Fry on Entering Heaven

“How dare you create a world
in which there is such misery..”

Fry cast out the kids’ cancer gifts –
sent forth by the tri-ghost ministry:

“Why should I respect a capricious,
mean-minded.. god?”

Thus he spake on R.T.E.,
tipping an Overman nod.

“The god who created this universe..
is.. clearly a maniac..”

No Stephen Fry tweet,
but a character attack.

“We have to spend our lives
on our knees thanking him.”

And the Gardai burnt time
on Stephen Fry’s meme.

[Original story here ]

The Flood

Evangelina Chamorro Díaz
climbed, primal, from the flood,
risen from muckled timbers,
smothered in Creation’s mud.

Heavy oxen struggled for land,
as Jesus Hidalgo filmed the girl,
some held out calloused hands
to return her to this world.

The deluge, instructed by God,
heaven-sent to test belief –
the sunken cattle didn’t know,
because God is a lying thief.

Evangelina Chamorro Díaz,
on slowed limbs from that slime,
an ascent of natural selection,
proving God isn’t on our side.


Story here.
Video here

C E Hitchens

I live with no religion,
I live without your god,
because they screwed it up –
one hell of a lot:

Mismanaged and misplanned,
offering little in good faith,
instead they demand
a foul life be your grace.

Child sacrifice and abuse,
put upon one’s only son,
in the name of god’s love,
for the good of everyone?

Let us raise a faith,
in our own kind hearts,
and leave it to religion
to blow itself apart.

Holier-than-thou-Saudis

Our dear Saudi friends
are trashing Yemen:
The city of Sana’a
is crumbling again:

Imported bomb-thumps,
and blast of tremors:
‘The Saudis are
fighting Houthi rebels’,

in support of
‘unity government’,
we help blast them,
‘the subordinates’,

across schools, homes,
and pock-marked parks:
Only the UN cries out
at such Saudi-led-larks.