The HyperTexts

Heresy Hearsay: Poems Heretical, Blasphemous and Vulgar

Which poets wrote the best heretical poems? Candidates include the Archpoet (a medieval Latin poet who may have been the first "rogue scholar"), William Blake (the English mystic who had visions of angels and saints, but called Jehovah "Nobodaddy"), Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Thomas Chatterton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, E. E. Cummings, W. H. Davies, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Hafiz, A. E. Housman, John Keats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Allan Poe, Rumi, William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Wallace Stevens, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Walt Whitman, William Wordsworth and William Butler Yeats.

We dedicate this page to the memory of Paul Christian Stevens, who published heresies by contemporary poets as the editor of The Flea, The Chimaera and Shit Creek Review.

If you quail to hear God's name used in vain, or to see his allegedly sterling reputation tarnished, it's best not to enter, for "here there be Dragons." On the other hand, please don't be too quick to draw the "obvious" conclusions. Some of the poets published here have also written devotional poetry. Also, please allow me to submit that any heresy uttered here pales in comparison to what most Christians believe and say about God. Who, we ask, are the real blasphemers?—poets who satirize the ludicrous images of God perpetrated on the world by religion, or "Christian" priests and pastors who preach and teach that Einstein, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, gays, a billion Hindus, a billion Muslims, and millions of suffering souls in places like Darfur, Haiti and Bangladesh will go to an "eternal hell" for not believing Christian dogma, when a close examination of the Bible proves hell to be an ancient fraud? I can offer strong evidence that the Bible does not teach the dogma of an eternal hell, which was never even mentioned by the God of the Bible or any of the Hebrew prophets. If you care to read my logical proof that there is no hell, according to the Bible itself, you can do so by clicking here. If you prefer poetry to theology, have at it! Michael R. Burch, editor, The HyperTexts



Forgive, O Lord
by Robert Frost

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive the great big one on me.



Is there any reward?
by Hillaire Belloc
 
Is there any reward?
I'm beginning to doubt it.
I am broken and bored,
Is there any reward
Reassure me, Good Lord,
And inform me about it.
Is there any reward?
I'm beginning to doubt it.



What Would Santa Claus Say
by Michael R. Burch

What would Santa Claus say,
I wonder,
about Jesus returning
to Kill and Plunder?

For he’ll likely return
on Christmas Day
to blow the bad
little boys away!

When He flashes like lightning
across the skies
and many a homosexual
dies,

when the harlots and heretics
are ripped asunder,
what will the Easter Bunny think,
I wonder?



In God We Trust
by Tom Merrill

Absolve yourselves, believe them saved,
Whom hungrily you brought to fare
As chance decrees, and leave to them
The fortune to which you rose heir.
Now theirs shall be the kingdom too,
This one and that, and all they hold,
All marvels present, and as well
Fresh wonders when the flesh turns cold.

All you who by blind pulse renew
The primal blessing cast in heat,
And to a season's course entrust
Frail issue weather can defeat,
Who from flung seed grew anxious too—
Deny earth feeds on them and you.



Women, Wine and Snuff
by John Keats

GIVE me women, wine, and snuff 
Untill I cry out "hold, enough!" 
You may do so sans objection 
Till the day of resurrection: 
For, bless my beard, they aye shall be 
My beloved Trinity. 



Willy Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?



I - Easter Hymn
by A. E. Housman

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.

But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.



The Worms' Contempt
by W. H. Davies

What do we earn for all our gentle grace?
A body stiff and cold from foot to face.

If you have beauty, what is beauty worth?
A mask to hide it, made of common earth.

What do we get for all our song and prattle?
A gasp for longer breath, and then a rattle.

What do we earn for dreams, and our high teaching?
The worms' contempt, that have no time for preaching.



A Child’s Christmas Prayer of Despair for a Hindu Saint
by Michael R. Burch

Santa Claus,
for Christmas, please,
don’t bring me toys, or games, or candy . . .
just . . . Santa, please . . .
I’m on my knees! . . .
please don’t let Jesus torture Gandhi!



the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
by E. E. Cummings

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church's protestant blessings
daughters, unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things—
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
.... the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy



The Missionary's Position
by Joseph S. Salemi

I maintain it all was for the best
We hacked our way through jungle and sought out
These savage children, painted and half-dressed,
To set their minds at ease, and dispel doubt.

Concerning what? Why, God's immense design,
And how it governs all we do and see.
Before, they had no sense of the divine
Beyond the sticks and bones of sorcery.

Granted, they are more somber and subdued,
Knowing that lives are watched, and judged, and weighed.
Subject to fits of melancholy mood,
They look upon the cross, and are afraid.

What would you have me say? We preached the Word
Better endured in grief than left unheard.



Challenge
by Janet Kenny

Come out you psychopathic creep,
you heartless mystery who needs
to frighten children out of sleep,
whose monstrous ego daily feeds
on supplications from the sick
and promises from desperate souls.
Come out and show yourself, you prick
whose victims writhe on burning coals.
Come out, pontificating ghoul
who fattens on the rising praise
of flatterers, whose pious schools
inculcate lies, whose dogmas craze
the simple. Come, expose your face,
that vile reflection of our fear.
Know now, there is no hiding place,
mass murderer, no welcome here.
What have you done with it, you thing,
that spirit whom you overpowered?
The one who made the birds that sing?
The one for whom the fruit trees flowered?
The smell of burning flesh exudes
from all your deeds. Your cloven feet
scorch divots as your will intrudes
and mothers cry for milk and meat.
We stir beneath your brutal weight
and creep like prisoners to the light
to stretch our limbs and celebrate
our liberation from the night.
Who dares to name the nameless? Who
lays claim to know the name of You?
Your armies vie to shout your name,
replete with certainty and bile.
The women hide their heads in shame.
It’s you I blame. Your work is vile.
Whatever caused young love to glow,
and buttercups in dewy grass,
and trees to rustle, streams to flow,
it wasn’t you, you horse’s arse.
You are the baby in the lab
with test tubes strewn across the floor.
With random goofiness, you grab
the nearest toy and roar for more.
Larger forces have no time
to notice our catastrophe.
The mathematics is sublime.
We are your past apostasy.
The broken eggs you cracked and used
to make an omelette, and we grow
with you, ambitious and confused,
performers in your cooking show.
Yet every morning hearts expand,
though heads can never understand.

Originally Published in The Flea




The Fall Guy                I.M. Norman Wisdom
by Peter Wyton

As sure as eggs are eggs, he lost his way
en route to heaven, ended up in hell.
The devil bellowed, “It’s my lucky day.
A comic genius. Get on stage and tell
me the one about the bishop, the whore…”
“I don’t do smut” squealed Norman, his jolly
smile fading, as the hot coals on the floor
caused him to trip over Nick’s tea-trolley,
impelling, with one wildly waving boot,
Beelzebub, caterwauling in pain,
down the diabolical laundry chute
and out of the iniquitous domain.
From upstairs came the most Almighty cheer,
“For God’s sake, Wisdom, get yourself up here.”
 
“Coming, Mr. Grimsdale,” called the bloke
in the ill-fitting suit and skew-whiff hat
who spent his life as a national joke
and in death, charged across the welcome mat
of paradise like a primary school
kid released from a monotonous class,
ruffling angels wings, playing the fool
with harps, walking on celestial grass
because the sign said DON’T, elbowing
seraphim and cherubim in the ribs,
hiding behind God’s throne, then tiptoeing
out to shout “Boo”, until His Holy Nibs
growled, “Peter, if anybody wants me,
I’ll be down the pub in Purgatory.”
 
They’re both still at the bar, on neutral ground,
Jehovah and Lucifer in dispute
about who’s going to get the next round
in and where they might conceivably put
the patron saint of slapstick, who is now
causing chaos throughout the afterlife.
On the one hand there’s the infernal row
he’s making, in addition to the strife
currently bedevilling both their spheres.
“Dead souls today aren’t what they used to be,”
both parties are now mumbling in their beers.
“Old Churchill’s telephone operator, he
was,” the Deity sobs. Satan says, “Cor!
How did the British ever win the war?”

Originally Published in The Flea



In His Kingdom of Corpses
by Michael R. Burch

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many enraged discourses,
high, high from some mountain peak
where He’s lectured man on compassion
while the sparrows around Him fell,
and babes, for His meager ration
of rain, died and went to hell,
unbaptized, for that’s His fashion.

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to vent
in many obscure discourses
on the need for man to repent,
to admit that he’s a sinner;
give up sex, and riches, and fame;
be disciplined at his dinner
though always he dies the same,
whether fatter or thinner.

In his kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many absurd discourses
of man’s Ego, precipitous Peak!,
while demanding praise and worship,
and the bending of every knee.
And though He sounds like the Devil,
all religious men now agree
He loves them indubitably.

Originally published by The Chimaera and Lucid Rhythms



The Grump's Apology
by Richard Moore

My tongue is rough, you find.
My tongue replies:
The truth is, though unkind,
kinder than lies.



I’ve got Jesus’s face on a wallet insert
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

I’ve got Jesus’s face on a wallet insert
and "Hell is for Queers" on the back of my shirt.
     And I uphold the Law,
     for Grace has a Flaw:
the Church must have someone to drag through the dirt.

I’ve got ten thousand reasons why Hell must exist,
and you’re at the top of my fast-swelling list!
     You’re nothing like me,
     so God must agree
and slam down the Hammer with His Loving Fist!

For what are the chances that God has a plan
to save everyone: even Boy George and Wham!?
     Eternal fell torture
     in Hell’s pressure scorcher
will separate homo from Man.

I’m glad I’m redeemed, ecstatic you’re not.
Did Christ die for sinners? Perish the thought!
     The "good news" is this:
     soon my Vengeance is His!,
for you’re not the lost sheep He sought.



Come Lord and Lift
by Tom Merrill

Come Lord, and lift the fallen bird
   Abandoned on the ground;
The soul bereft and longing so
   To have the lost be found.

The heart that cries—let it but hear
   Its sweet love answering,
Or out of ether one faint note
   Of living comfort wring.



Buffalo Bill's defunct
by E. E. Cummings

Buffalo Bill's
        defunct
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
                                        stallion
        and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
                                                         Jesus
        he was a handsome man
                             and what i want to know is
        how do you like your blueeyed boy
        Mister Death



The Garden Of Love
by William Blake

I laid me down upon a bank,
Where Love lay sleeping;
I heard among the rushes dank
Weeping, weeping.

Then I went to the heath and the wild,
To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
And they told me how they were beguiled,
Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.



jesus hates me, this i know
by Michael R. Burch

jesus hates me, this I know,
for Church libel tells me so:
"little ones to him belong"
but if they use their dongs, so long!
    yes, jesus hates me!
    yes, jesus baits me!
    yes, he berates me!
    Church libel tells me so!

jesus fleeces us, i know,
for Religion scams us so:
little ones are brainwashed to
believe god saves the Chosen Few!
    yes, jesus fleeces!
    yes, he deceases
    the bunny and the rhesus
    because he's mad at you!

jesus hates me—christ who died
so i might be crucified:
'cause if i use my cock or brain,
that will drive the "lord" insane!
    yes, jesus hates me!
    yes, jesus baits me!
    yes, he berates me!
    Church libel tells me so!

jesus hates me, this I know,
for Church libel tells me so:
first Priests tell me "look above,"
that christ's the lamb and god's the dove,
but then They sentence me to Hell
for using my big brain too well
and understanding half the Bible
(if god is love) is clearly libel.
    yes, jesus hates me!
    yes, jesus baits me!
    yes, he berates me!
    Church libel tells me so!



SATYR CUNNILINGUENT: To Herman Melville
by Charles Martin

1.
Winding her fingers through
His hair, fingertips drumming,
At last she brings him to
The sweet verge of her coming:

Her passion at its flood
Overwhelms all measure;
On articulation’s bud,
Inarticulate with pleasure,

She flops like a caught fish
Straining to be human!
This Satyr has his wish
Fulfilled in a mortal woman.

2.
Flesh is the mystery:
Had Billy a young bride
As Ahab had, might he
Not have been less tongue-tied?

Might he not have become
Glib in the face of darkness?
As you yourself, in some
Of your moods seem to practice

The clever, tongue-in-cheek
Art of the cunning Satyr?
How hard it is to speak
Of the things that matter.



The Penitent

by Edna St. Vincent Millay
 
 I had a little Sorrow,
   Born of a little Sin,
   I found a room all damp with gloom
 And shut us all within;
  And, "Little Sorrow, weep," said I,
  "And, Little Sin, pray God to die,
      And I upon the floor will lie
      And think how bad I've been!"
 
      Alas for pious planning—
It mattered not a whit!
   As far as gloom went in that room,
      The lamp might have been lit!
   My little Sorrow would not weep,
   My little Sin would go to sleep—
   To save my soul I could not keep
      My graceless mind on it!
 
So I got up in anger,
And took a book I had,
   And put a ribbon on my hair
      To please a passing lad,
   And, "One thing there's no getting by—
   I've been a wicked girl," said I:
      "But if I can't be sorry, why,
I might as well be glad!"



gimME that ol’ time religion!
by michael r. burch

fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee,

jesus
loves and understands ME!
safe in his grace, I’LL damn
them to hell—
the
strumpet, the harlot, the wild jezebel,
the
alky, the druggie, all queers short and tall!
let
them drink ashes and wormwood and gall,
’cause fiddle-dee-DUMB, fiddle-dee-WEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEee . . .
jesus
loves and understands
ME!




His Confession
by the Archpoet

circa 1165; translated from
the  original Medieval Latin
by Helen Waddell


Seething over inwardly
With fierce indignation,
In my bitterness of soul,
Hear my declaration.
I am of one element,
Levity my matter,
Like enough a withered leaf
For the winds to scatter.

Since it is the property
Of the sapient
To sit firm upon a rock,
it is evident
That I am a fool, since I
Am a flowing river,
Never under the same sky,
Transient for ever.

Hither, thither, masterless
Ship upon the sea,
Wandering through the ways of air,
Go the birds like me.
Bound am I by ne'er a bond,
Prisoner to no key,
Questing go I for my kind,
Find depravity.

Never yet could I endure
Soberness and sadness,
Jests I love and sweeter than
Honey find I gladness.
Whatsoever Venus bids
Is a joy excelling,
Never in an evil heart
Did she make her dwelling.

Down the broad way do I go,
Young and unregretting,
Wrap me in my vices up,
Virtue all forgetting,
Greedier for all delight
Than heaven to enter in:
Since the soul is in me dead,
Better save the skin.

Pardon, pray you, good my lord,
Master of discretion,
But this death I die is sweet,
Most delicious poison.
Wounded to the quick am I
By a young girl's beauty:
She's beyond my touching? Well,
Can't the mind do duty?

Hard beyond all hardness, this
Mastering of Nature:
Who shall say his heart is clean,
Near so fair a creature?
Young are we, so hard a law,
How should we obey it?
And our bodies, they are young,
Shall they have no say in’t?

Sit you down amid the fire,
Will the fire not burn you?
To Pavia come, will you
Just as chaste return you?
Pavia, where Beauty draws
Youth with finger-tips,
Youth entangled in her eyes,
Ravished with her lips.

Let you bring Hippolytus,
In Pavia dine him,
Never more Hippolytus
Will the morning find him.
In Pavia not a road
But leads to venery
Nor among its crowding towers
One to chastity.

Yet a second charge they bring:
I'm forever gaming.
Yea, the dice hath many a time
Stripped me to my shaming
When an if the body's cold,
If the mind is burning,
On the anvil hammering,
Rhymes and verses turning?

Look again upon your list.
Is the tavern on it?
Yea, and never have I scorned,
Never shall I scorn it,
Till the holy angels come,
And my eyes discern them,
Singing for the dying soul,
Requiem aeternam.

For on this my heart is set:
When the hour is nigh me,
Let me in the tavern die,
With a tankard by me,
While the angels looking down
Joyously sing o'er me,
Deus sit propitius
Huic potatori.


'Tis the fire that's in the cup
Kindles the soul's torches,
‘Tis the heart that drenched in wine
Flies to heaven's porches.
Sweeter tastes the wine to me
In a tavern tankard
That the watered stuff my Lord
Bishop has decanted.

Let them fast and water drink,
All the poets' chorus,
Fly the market and the crowd
Racketing uproarious.
Sit in quiet spots and think,
Shun the tavern's portal
Write, and never having lived,
Die to be immortal.

Never hath the spirit of
Poetry descended,
Till with food and drink my lean
Belly was distended,
But when Bacchus lords it in
My cerebral story,
Comes Apollo with a rush,
Fills me with his glory.

Unto every man his gift.
Mine was not for fasting.
Never could I find a rhyme
With my stomach wasting.
As the wine is, so the verse:
'Tis a better chorus
When the landlord hath a good
Vintage set before us.

Good my lord, the case is heard,
I myself betray me,
And affirm myself to be
All my fellows say me.
See, they in thy presence are:
Let whoe’er hath known
His own heart and found it clean,
Cast at me the stone.



Behind Enemy Lines
by Tom Merrill

          "I have learned that to be with those I like 
           is enough."—Walt Whitman


Spotted where dropped, its neat, unread
Still folded pages testified
I'd been afloat inside my head,
So buoyed by a presence I'd 
Escaped resorting to the trends,
Or tracking our squirearchy's scheme
For locking my more wayward friends
Out of the landscape of their dream.

Then—lift for lift—I'd played chauffeur—
Slipped out an outcast who slips in
And braves the backlash of the pure
To smuggle me my favorite sin
Or just pass out a room away
While I drift in my mind all day.



In One Ear
by Joseph S. Salemi

In the Strand I picked up a little
profligate wretch and gave her sixpence.
       James Boswell, London Journal,
        4 June 1763


Boswell listened, Johnson talked.
Then the Scotsman went and walked
London's alleyways and mews
Seeking trollops from the stews.
All that weighty, sage advice
From the Doctor, without price,
Never made the slightest dent
On a youth whose natural bent
Drew him towards the rankest sluts—
Brains were trumped by churning guts.
Such are humans. At the best
We may listen, be impressed,
Marvel at sagacious wit—
Then go act as we see fit.
Mind and will stay far apart;
Reason does not touch the heart;
Impulse shatters logic's chain;
Argument goes down the drain.
Aristotle's books slam shut
When we are in heat or rut.




A Supermarket in California 
by Allen Ginsberg
 
    What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon. 
    In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
    What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
    I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
    I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
    I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
    We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
    Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
    (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
    Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
    Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
    Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?



A Classics Scholar Views Her Second Husband
by Richard Moore

Mirabile Dictu,
he got a prick too.



Dizain for the Lamia
by Joseph S. Salemi

     The lamia was a fabulous beast, half woman and half serpent, that
       lured men to their deaths through sexual temptation. The lamia
       emitted a hissing sound so soothing and seductive that men were
       irresistibly drawn to her.

Go to a charnel house, and enter in—
Curled in a corner sweetly hissing lies
The lamia, a female shaped for sin,
Who writhes a serpent's tail below her thighs.
Uncoiling to meet you, she will rise;
You cannot move, transfixed by that dull hum.
Her scented breasts invite delirium;
Hope's lost in the profusion of her hair—
Those dead grey eyes say one word only: Come!
Her kiss is lethal. But you hardly care.



With Apologies To Posterity
(And to Atwood)
by Tom Merrill

To halt for good the blithe and brutal
Transmission of our tragedy,
She could,
          while sure the race was futile
Conceive no failsafe strategy

For saving unborn generations.
But if uncertain how to thwart
Such thoughtless
                        self-perpetuations—
At least she hoped we'd self-abort.



Lament for a Fertile Father
by Richard Moore

Few boys
disparage
the joys
of marriage.

Most girls
imagine
the pearls
they'll cadge in

(nor dread
dead fish in)
the wed
condition.

O churls
so mulish
and girls
so foolish

by lust
so harried
they must
get married

and flip
and splash in
their drip-
ping passion!

Each soon
discovers
this boon
of lovers

a pot
of nettles
and rot-
ting petals.

Love's sleeve
of custard
shall leave
them flustered:

no oath
can stop its
dark growth
of moppets,

no saint,
no ices,
no quaint
devices,

no plug,
no stopper . . .
He'll hug,
he'll hop her,

and still
she'll quicken—
until
they sicken.

They will!
Time's trickle
will dill
their pickle.

As both
grow older,
he, loath
to hold her,

holds one
who, tiring,
grows un-
desiring.

Then talk
turns brutal.
Both balk.
It's futile.

Love's way
now seething
with ba-
bies teething,

their mad
begetting
now sad
regretting,

they may
well tremble:
for they
resemble

drunk sots
whose swinging
gavottes,
gay singing,

and horn-
y laughter,
the morn-
ing after

are groans,
shrieks, sobbing;
nerves, bones,
skulls throbbing:

love's blear
wild clover
now mere
hangover.



A Brief Alarm
by Tom Merrill

Like everything, this too will soon be lost,
Forever out of sight and out of mind,
A brief alarm resorbed into the sum
Of passing things that leave no trace behind.
For its duration, it would summon all
To a restraint heroic—to be brave
Beyond all generations gone before,
And make a sacrifice more sure to save:

To starve the ground, and lay no further feast
For bloated Earth's unflagging appetite,
But be content to plow redemptively
A barren field in which no seed seeks light
And make your plots the last wherein to toss
A harvest raised for neverending loss.



Into the Twilight
by William Butler Yeats

Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight;
Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.

Your mother Eire is always young,
Dew ever shining and twilight grey;
Though hope fall from you and love decay,
Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue.

Come, heart, where hill is heaped upon hill:
For there the mystical brotherhood
Of sun and moon and hollow and wood
And river and stream work out their will;

And God stands winding His lonely horn,
And time and the world are ever in flight;
And love is less kind than the grey twilight,
And hope is less dear than the dew of the morn.



So Seasons Sound
by Tom Merrill

I speak to them, I notice, in my strange
Yet native tongue, and let them guess what's new
Where out beyond the mythic land I range
And storied wonders cannot gloss the view.
So some against annulment preen their sound,
As if all slates were not to be wiped clean
Or honers of a bloodgift were less bound
For all their fanfare never to have been.
So seasons sound their trumpets and subside,
Inflate and wizen for sweet nature's sake,
And while swung oceans fling to either side
The latest chosen for a foamy wake
The news still spreads our goose is hard to cook
And no blank page will mark us in Time's book.



A Demurral
by Tom Merrill

Why keep your senses grounded here,
Or let them have you sharp and clear

Who wakened you to numbered days
To yoke you to their futile ways?

While tickings winch you nearer toward
Your execution and reward,

Why not imbibe—or pick your trip,
Let them ram home the standard script

As you, absorbing what you like
Risk transport on a one-way flight;

Let our grand architects complain,
Who pull their mighty weight in vain,

Only to end as they began,
Fragile freight of a circling hand

That flicks the feeble out and in
And each back to his origin.



The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
 
Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
   One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.
 
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
   About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
 
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
   And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd
'I came like Water and like Wind I go.'


 

Question on a college thermodynamics exam: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof." Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, We postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave.

As for souls entering hell, most religions state that if you do not belong to their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are many religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant. Two options exist:

  1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.
  2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the quote given to me by [name withheld] during Freshman year, "that it will be a cold night in hell before I sleep with you" and take into account the fact that I still have NOT succeeded in having sex with her, then Option 2 cannot be true ... Thus, hell is exothermic."


The Pelagian Drinking Song
by Hillaire Belloc
 
Pelagius lived at Kardanoel
And taught a doctrine there
How, whether you went to heaven or to hell
It was your own affair.
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own affair.
 
No, he didn't believe
In Adam and Eve
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began
With the Fall of Man
And he laughed at Original Sin.
With my row-ti-tow
Ti-oodly-ow
He laughed at original sin.
 
Then came the bishop of old Auxerre
Germanus was his name
He tore great handfuls out of his hair
And he called Pelagius shame.
And with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly whacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall —
They rather had been hanged.
 
Oh he whacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions.
With my row-ti-tow
Ti-oodly-ow
Their orthodox persuasions.
 
Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
Exceedingly bold indeed.
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth
And still can drink strong ale
Let us put it away to infallible truth
That always shall prevail.
 
And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword
And howling heretics too.
And all good things
Our Christendom brings
But especially barley brew!
With my row-ti-tow
Ti-oodly-ow
Especially barley brew!



Officially Speaking
by Tom Merrill

What nugget gleaned may we bestow
To mark the passing of the torch
Who watch the darkness watch us go
Steaming across a lamp-lit porch.
A few steps off our haloed stage
The boundless night with sealed lips
Counts out the customary wage:
An ineluctable eclipse.

It comes to us in daily thought
And haunts us every day we breathe,
How we without a hope have sought
To love where we could only grieve
And only honed a skill so wise
To take a sage to his demise.



Alone
by Edgar Alan Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been 
As others were; I have not seen 
As others saw; I could not bring 
My passions from a common spring. 
From the same source I have not taken 
My sorrow; I could not awaken 
My heart to joy at the same tone; 
And all I loved, I loved alone. 
Then—in my childhood, in the dawn 
Of a most stormy life—was drawn 
From every depth of good and ill 
The mystery which binds me still: 
From the torrent, or the fountain, 
From the red cliff of the mountain, 
From the sun that round me rolled 
In its autumn tint of gold, 
From the lightning in the sky 
As it passed me flying by, 
From the thunder and the storm, 
And the cloud that took the form 
(When the rest of Heaven was blue) 
Of a demon in my view.





Clean-Language Freaks
by Joseph S. Salemi

A boring sort of ethopath
Is one who’s seized by livid wrath
If you use "bad words" in his hearing.
He gets upset if talk goes veering
In a raw, obscene direction—
He’ll hit you with a stern correction,
And say that you must watch your tongue
And not throw vile words in among
The purer vocables of language.
His warning has an adder’s fang’s edge,
And I have not the slightest doubt
If you don’t stop he’ll punch you out.
You mostly find these prim-lipped clowns
In stupid little one-horse towns,
Or hamlets where some Baptist howler
Makes Sunday mornings even fouler
Telling folks how to dress and think.
There is a pretty solid link
Between the fans of Nice Clean Speech
And tendencies to gas and preach.
These puling, milksop moral lambs
Can’t stand the sound of hells and damns,
And if you say a word like shit
They’ll go into a holy fit
And blow their little moral stacks
And lambaste you with thumps and whacks.
Don’t dare to utter cunt or prick
They’ll have your liver on a stick.
They even grab their birchen rod
If someone simply mentions God
(They think He should be called "The Lord"
In tones that are quite overawed.)
They cannot even be enticed
To say the name of Jesus Christ
Except when muttering a prayer
In rapturous devotion’s air.
These prissy, squeamish, tight-assed nerds
Who can’t abide four-letter words
Are lacking in the basic grit
That makes a man a mensch. A bit
Of blue-toned language spices life
And keeps one sharpened, like a knife
Ready to slash and cut and stab
Some dull opponent’s mental flab.
Plain language tells all gutless types
That you have got the balls and tripes
To say whatever you are thinking
While they are tied in knots and shrinking
From honest and forthright expression.
Their pallid speech is a confession
That they lack spunk and inner drive,
And hence their words are not alive.
Vapid twits who do not swear
Give off a tweedy, pious air
Like otherworldly English vicars
Who pass out at the sight of knickers.
But as for one who’s not averse
To belching out a raw-boned curse,
The arsenal of human speech
Is well within his grasp and reach.
His tongue’s a well-honed bayonet
Kept in its scabbard, safe, and yet
Quick to be bared when danger nears—
Liars and fools and sloganeers
Are terrorized by his tongue’s bite,
Its stinging lash, its will to smite.



Voodoo
by Richard Moore

Risking a deft-
ly small amount,

I've left
our bill-paying account

in both our names,
bold on each check.

This tames
my urge to break her neck.

Crossing her out
for each new bill,

I shout
happily, "Kill her, kill!"



Psychopath
by Richard Moore

My love for her is utter.
Daily my love increases.
Then why do I long to cut her
up into soggy pieces?



Psychopath (2)
by Richard Moore

I got sort of bored with Betty,
so I cut her up with my machete.
Amazing how her bones, eyes, nose, all
eventually went down the disposal.



Parting Wish

May she find solace with her lovers
writhe with them underneath the covers;
then may age bring, to ease her slumbers,
carrots, bananas, and cucumbers.



Tea at the Palaz of Hoon
by Wallace Stevens

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.



His "Life"
by Richard Moore

Quip upon quip
in "smarty ass" one-upmanship
until our clown
experienced death's clever put-down.



A Satirist Accedes to the Nature of Things
by Richard Moore

O yes, I should be better known,
that my tombstone
may hear, instead of sobs and grief,
sighs of relief.



The Rock of the Redeemer
by Tom Merrill

Each week he orbits back again to mine
Old quarries, prop the faithful, and be swept
Rock-borne from door to door, through days and nights
And on to where revered remains are kept.
Some groomed disciple then will softly keep
Long watch, until the moment when at last
All done with sacrifice, the rock rolled back,
The lamb bursts forth, intent on breaking fast;

So weekly feasts are hastily prepared,
By way of thanks for many feats performed
And toils endured to keep old fans attached—
Some scourging, blood, and other gifts to leaven
The outlook of his flock, which deems the rock
His church stands on, the keystone of their heaven.



Listen
by Immanuel A. Michael

1.
Listen to me now
and heed my voice;
I am a madman, alone,
screaming in the wilderness,
but listen now.

Listen to me now, and if I say
that black is black
and white is white
and in between lies gray,
I have no choice.

A madman does not choose his words;
they come to him:
the moon’s illuminations,
intimations of the wind,
and he must speak.

But listen to me now,
and if you hear
the tolling of the judgment bell,
and if its tone is clear,
then do not tarry,
but listen,
or cut off your ears,
for I Am weary.

I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

2.
Listen to me now: I had a Vision.
An elevated train derailed, and Fell.
It was the Church brought low, almost to Hell.
And I alone survived, who dream of Mercy:
the Heretic, who speaks behind the Veil.

3.
Listen to me now: I saw an airplane
fall from the sky. And why should I explain?
The Visions are the same. It is my Heresy
that I survive, because I sing of Mercy,
while elevated "saints" go down in flames.

4.
Listen to me now: I saw in Nashville
how those who "soar" will plummetFame in flames!
and fall on those below, as if to kill them.
The lowly, saved, will understand their names.

5.
Listen to me now: I heard another
say, "That which died shall Resurrect and Live."
An angel with a Rose bestowing Mercy!
What can it mean, but that my Visions give
fair warning to the world that God wants Mercy.
My Heresy is that we must forgive!

6.
Listen to me now: she heard god calling
O, who will love me, who will be my friend?
Does he want Perfect Saints, the whitewashed Purists,
who frown down on their "brothers," without end?

7.
Listen to me now: you are not perfect,
and your "wise counsel" helps no one at all:
unless it’s sweetened with the sweetest Mercy,
it’s pure astringent antiseptic gall.

8.
Listen to me now, and learn this lesson:
If God wants mercy, why dig at the speck
in your brother’s eye, when even now the Beam,
your lack of mercy, spares, no, neither neck,
becomes the Hangman’s Millstone. We’re all children,
all little ones! Be patient with the fleck!

9.
Listen to me now: for the Announcer
explained that wars have given Presidents
the precedents to soon assume all Power.
Vote, citizens, or be mere residents!

10.
O, listen to me now: I saw the Warheads
stored safely underground, except for One.
A red-haired woman with a bright complexion
seduced the guard. Translucent blouse, red thong,
white bra – these were her fearsome antique weapons.
I saw the Skull and Crossbones! Heed my Song!

11.
O, listen to me now, and hear my Gospel:
three verses of such sweet simplicity!
God is Light: in Him there is no darkness.
In Christ, no condemnation: Liberty!
God want no Sacrifice, but only Mercy.
O, who could ask for sweeter Heresy?

12.
Theology? I swear that I disdain it!
If Love can be explained, why then explain it!
If Love can’t be explained why, then, should God,
if God is Love? Nor hell nor cattle prod
is needed, if God’s good, and God’s supreme.
Ask, children, what "re-ligion" truly means:
"return to bondage!" Heed the bondsman’s screams!

13.
Heed, children, which Theologies you dream
when Hellish Nightmares wake you, when you Scream
for comfort, but no comforter is there.
Which Voices do you heed, which Crosses bear?
If god is light, whence do Dark Visions come
which leave the Taste of Venom on your Tongue,
with which you Damn your brother for one Sin
you do not share, ten thousand underskin
like Itching Worms that Squirm and Vilely Hiss:
"Your brother’s sin will keep him from god’s bliss,
but You are safe because god favors You!"
If God is Love, how can this voice be true?

14.
For God is not a favorer of men.
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

The HyperTexts