Neater by the Dozen

Neater by the Dozen

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.


George Whitefield by an unknown artist


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.

The title is a reference to puritan paranoia.

There’s no ‘We’ in Corpus Christi

Photo by Pixabay on

There’s no ‘We’ in Corpus Christi

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.


don't be cross


“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
                                                                                                                                            -Mark 15:33

An eclipse, right ?  It sounds so fine,
Especially when we learn of one,
A total seen in ’29.

Alas, we now can calculate
Down to the nearest minute
And the nearest mile its fate –

And this one was November,
And only nine-tenths partial there –
The dark was still a glowing ember.

The near-miss of ’29 –
The sky was dim, the air was chill,
But the Sun could still outshine.

An hour or so to noon,
And lasting just a hour or two,
So it was over far too soon.

And anyway, it just won’t do –
For Passover was always held
When the Moon was full, not new.

But what about a Lunar one ?
There’s one in April ’33,
At sunset too – job done !

Except…it’s partial, still quite bright,
And it didn’t last an hour in all,
And the only darkness comes with night.

Some suggest volcanic ash instead –
Though that would last for days, and stretch
Throughout the Eastern Med.

Maybe just a heavy storm ?
The legend doesn’t mention rain,
But thunderheads might fit the form.

And yet…is that the best that God
Can rustle up ?  A gloomy afternoon ?
His climax barely gets a nod.

We’re better off with desert dust –
When heavy in the atmosphere
It tints the Moon with rust.

But as the moon sails higher,
So the dust is less through which we peer –
So this one’s not a flyer.

And anyway, how come
There was no-one else wrote down the fact
Of what should strike them dumb ?

Three full hours of dark,
Before the sun had even set ?
Now that should leave its mark !

In our hearts, we know the score –
The sky did not go dark that day.
The world still turned, just as before.

I Want to Believe

Photo by Miriam Espacio on

I Want to Believe

Yes, I believed you when you told me
What you’d lately overheard –
The more bizarre, the more you sold me,
Gasping ev’ry neon word.

For you confirmed my long suspicion,
Secrets from the other side
That I now learned without permission
And which they had fought to hide.

But then, then you snatched away your proof,
In a manner so offhand-cruel
To this lonely seeker of the truth
With an oh-so-cheerful “April fool !”

My face went as red as my vision,
And my pride with my stammered denial
As I drowned on a wave of derision,
Spat on by my own inner bile.

But if you hadn’t blown the gaffe,
I’d still believe the stuff you’d spun
For what to you is just a laugh,
To me, for once, was a moment in the sun.

Sons of Milka

The First Discord by De Scott Evans – I’m showing Cain & Abel here because Uz & Buz are inexplicably much overlooked by painters

Sons of Milka

Uz and Buz were brothers,
Way back in the Bible-time,
Who rightly cursed their mother
For her blatant naming-crime.

Uz was older, but Buz was bigger –
“The whole of you is held in me,
Yet I am more than your slight figure,
For you shall never be my B.”

“Not so !” said Uz, “For in the lore
Of old King James, I’ve letters three –
I have an H that stands before,
So they dub me Huz in the KJV !”

So, Uzz and Buzz, or Ooze and Booze ?
Or maybe one of each, who knows ?
And in the end, they got to choose,
But never told us what they chose.


Alas, this is another mystery as to who is the painter


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.

Nice Try, Aesop

Like it says, 9 Aesop Fables by Antonio Frasconi

Nice Try, Aesop

The race ain’t always to the swift,
Nor the fight a cinch for the strong –
Though underdogs lose out 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 all the afternoon,
But the Tortoise still comes last.

The point ain’t always with the smug,
Nor the sting a prod from 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.

The Siren

Bellwether by Mark Heine

The Siren

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 !

Without a Prayer

Without a Prayer

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.