Prose first this time, ok? The title, “The Steeplechase” refers to a horseback race wherein riders competed to finish a cross-country race with church steeples as the in-sight goal. All obstacles — canals, fences, walls, etc. had to be cleared. Obviously, I am not speaking of literal horseback races in my unfinished poem – a work in progress as I am still uncertain where exactly it is going. It is both a personal history and, I hope, a look at how humanity can escape self-deceit? Onward, then – to the poem:
I could see it from my window,
No proper pointed steeple – that,
A bell tower squat, square, and silent,
Because the banker ‘cross the street?
Slept in hungover each Sunday morning,
Thus the Catholics came so silently,
Met weekly with no priest of their own,
He came like the full moon, once monthly.
Was it then – my heart beat for underdogs?
Seeing Mammon’s minion-man snoring in his cups,
Each silent Sunday kicking the Pope’s people,
That took me in sympathy to Church?
Gray and serious as any postulant, I went,
To the tree that bore no fruit save despair,
Long I stayed in duty to aging beauty,
While cracked promises withered in my heart.
Twas a different time – living a myth aloud,
Steeples every few blocks with pillars and stained glass,
Carillons and choirs and much sweet charity,
Oh yes, the blue laws and blue balls,
Self-denial, self-control, self-righteousness!
But righteousness becomes as corrosive as acid,
Elect, exceptional and “us versus them”,
Banks grew taller than churches left in basements.
Poverty became failure and judgement from on high,
Riches became the “righteous” fruits of grace,
Helping turned to enabling weakness,
Might became right and Arthur is truly killed,
Camelot more surely razed than the Twin Towers,
Fallen to anger and hate, to fear and greed,
That Sky Father in a stealth bomber?
Now that’s a Holy Fucking Ghost!
All those steeples skyward reaching,
So many towers of Babel to me,
“Saved” or not – all bleed as red,
Children starve while women bleed and weep,
Men ride to the hunt with dogs of war,
All in the names of god – Allah or Jesus,
If every bell and bomb fell silent?
Would we hear the echoes of our need?
(more tomorrow, mayhap?!)