Disciples or Olympians, They always come in dozens, Keeping in the families With brothers, sons, and cousins. Add in Tribes of Israel, And Knights about the table, And clearly stories love their twelves As various yet stable. But always, there’s a glut of candidates From which to choose, And no two-tellings can agree On which ones win or lose – Oh sure, there’s half-a-dozen, maybe eight, All guaranteed – But for the rest, it’s anybody’s guess Who will succeed… They’re heroes of the second-tiers, The extras at the feast, Without a story of their own, But name-checked still, at least. A pool of six to eight will form As random plot devices – A few more names to fill the ranks As redshirt sacrifices. A handful get the nod this time, The rest stay on the bench – And of the lucky ones, we know These men are strictly ‘hench’. So two or three are left out in the cold, Cos here’s the rub – You’re clique is nothing special If there’s fourteen in your club.
Vigilance Vance was a devil for the devils, Finding them all over, in angles and in bevels – He found them in his toolbox, he found them in his bed, As they hollered in his bushes and they whispered in his head. They dulled his steely razor, they sharpened all his wine, They loosened-up his laces and they tangled-up his twine. In ev’ry mouth of mutton and in ev’ry bite of apple, They would choke him at the harvest, they tickled him in chapel.
Vigilance Vance was awash in filthy devils From the Westmorland Lakes to the Summerset Levels He found them in the woodshed, he found them in the dray, Teasing him and taunting him and tempting him astray. He always knew they watched him, he felt their beady eyes On the bulging of his biceps and the firmness of his thighs – Ev’rywhere he found them, ev’rywhere he’d grapple – Fairies in the garden, gargoyles in the chapel.
There once was a priest Who thought he was a priest, But who wasn’t in the Lord’s own eyes. For, to be a priest You must at very least Have already been fully baptised. And I am that priest, Who thought his path was greased Right into the body of the Church. But my own parish priest Who performed on me the piece Messed up, and left me in the lurch. For old Father East Was a jovial priest Who knew that my parents were stressing – So to put them at their ease, He thought it quite a wheeze To fully loop them into the blessing – “To the Lord God who frees us And in the name of Jesus We all here christen you, our cute little guy.” But God had closed his ears To the heartfelt font-side cheers – For the priest had said that ‘We’ instead of ‘I’. So when the truth was teased, How the Church was less-than-pleased ! For I wasn’t then a priest to begin… Each wedding vow ceased To be valid in the least As the couples fornicated in sin. Ev’ry moral I policed, Ev’ry absolution leased Was a sham in its promise and its hope. Their souls had been fleeced And sold off to the Beast – For this priest has gone on to be Pope.
The Greeks never had a canon, Their gods were not in chapter and verse – Despite a level of literacy, They didn’t take gods literally. Oh sure, they all believed in them, As unavoidable (or worse), But ev’ry city-state would give A local spin to ev’ry myth.
The Greeks never had a canon, Their gods made do with epic tales – All unofficial, without guards, And retold not by priests, but bards. They probably believed in them, But stuck their thumbs upon the scales – As fan-fictions running free That no-one saw as heresy.
The Greeks never had a canon, Their gods were merely one of many – Fighting ev’ry deity For prayers and popularity. Oh sure, the Greeks believed in them, Yet outright-worshipped hardly any – And who they did would change with fashion – Sacrifices on a ration.
The Greeks never had a canon, Their gods were tricky to pin down – They changed their shapes and names at will To stay alert and hard to kill. If folks no more believed in them, They merged with newer-gods-in-town – So the Jews think just one god is best ? Well, toss him on the altar with the rest.
The race is not to the swift, Nor the fight to the strong – Though underdogs lose nine in ten, And the weak last half as long. The race is won by the winner, And the winner is usually fast – The Hare can snooze for the afternoon, But the Tortoise still comes last.
The point is not to the smug, Nor the sting to the sharp – And morals will lose us nine in ten Whenever the pious harp. The ears are won by the joker, Who flatters more than he smarts – The North Wind can bluster all he likes, But the Sun will warm our hearts.
I sit upon this rock to warn the sailors all to keep away, I even sing to them a warning sound – But guaranteed, there’s always some who cannot help but stray, Just to get a better gawp at what they’ve found. They could have sailed on by, as many do, onto a safer bay – Not got distracted till they ran aground. Yet once back in the tavern, you should hear the traps I lay ! It was never fault of theirs they nearly drowned !
Show me a god, any god, before me, And I’ll wrestle him wrath to the ground – I’ll grapple his incorporeal might, I’ll douse his strange and ineffable light. Bring me a god, any god, before me, And I’ll leave him imploded and bound – I’ll haul him before the judgement of Hague, To count for each smiting and censure and plague.