It was not unlike the prognosis of
body integrity identity disorder,
but I had to cut it off,
despite having invested so much of
into growing that misplaced limb of
dogma being a limb grown hitherto
from within the womb.
But I had to remove it
And I understand why many people react
to losing their religion,
just as they would losing a
or even their head,
because it is an attack on the self,
a psychosomatic assault
which is registered as such in the
brain’s errant cauldron of
miswired nerves and biochemistry;
but I had to cut it off
after spending many years
in the frigid frostbite realms of Reason,
cauterizing the rotten wound with
It was, after all, a
liability soon replaced
by a more efficient prosthetic.
there are times when,
in the shadow of fight or flight circumstances,
I feel the irrational itch
and wish to encode myself fully
into modernity’s machines,
finally liberating myself,
if only temporarily,
from superstition’s angsty, tingling
codex of nerves.
What is this errant sensation I feel
in the dark, fearful hours of life?
It is merely a nagging pop-up error
in my cerebral matrix
for hardwired software
long ago deleted.
How sad that Christians,
for whom Christ bled,
should butter bullets
instead of bread.
In the center of the stage the silence broke
and thereupon the Devil, grinning, spoke:
“Lift your donkey-eared sire higher
and pile the crosses upon the pyre—
it is the Feast of Fools, the decadence
when insanity makes the most sense.
Too many plagues, too many prayers,
too many imbalances while God errs.
Cast the dice and dance a jig,
slit the throat of both pope and pig.
It is not heathenism, but Order—
atonement for chaos on the border
between right and wrong, sins and morals;
a contrast of curses and of chorales.
What good is that grave marked Tomorrow?
All that matters now is to drown the sorrow.
For we dance and make merry, knowing life
is but a baby dropped by a bumbling midwife.
So, if the world is nothing but stout sadness,
let us go to the drunken refuge of madness,
stubborn as a donkey in his destitution
and no crazier than a priest steeped in delusion.
See the father who lost to bleeding boils
the children he loved, his wife, the spoils
of a pious life now martyred to idiotic chance,
and so he joins his feet to a heathen dance.
See this small boy, prematurely grown a man
after his family died, leaving this orphan
at a young age and beset with the sores
that took them—give unto him wine and whores
and let him live while he may, today, anon,
for tomorrow will never come, like Canaan,
where the Promised Land’s happy shore
is lapped with blood, and nothing more,
for our lives are meted in thrifty measure
with much of pain and so little of pleasure.
And, so, this beldam—with her back broken
from years of fruitless toil—let her soak in
Dionysian necatar, easing the aches of her limbs
and the hurtful memories whose barbed stems
entwine her heart to prick and bleed—
let drink be her balm, barrels equal to need.
And let the nuns and monks leave their cloisters
and converge in congress, seeding pearls upon oysters,
for the End comes today, and tomorrow comes never
while Death sharpens his sickle blade to swing and sever
every life, ready as a seed ripened full to bloom
while planted in this filthy, diseased mass tomb.
So dance, while you can, and exhaust yourself well,
because Sleep will come, at the end of your tale,
and the earth will continue to orbit a ball of light
while adrift in a void of indifferent Eternal Night.”
Erasmus appeared onstage, where all could see him,
shrugging as he agreed: “Ad libitum—carpe diem.”
He was a theist obsessed with knowing whether God did exist,
toiling away in his tottering telescope tower
and gazing into cosmic mysteries, nebular mist—
from stars to microbes, studying hour after hour.
He could measure a planet’s circumference within an inch
using quantum math as a wizard weaves a magic spell
and diagramed the cogs, tightening with an electron wrench
the algorithms of existence, programming them without fail.
And he did such devilry because his beloved wife had died
from the frailty inborn into mortal things,
so he looked to disprove what he had always denied
and then unburden his grievances to the King of kings.
His tower had been built upon the crypt of his wife,
stacked brick by brick toward the vast-vaulted sky,
like a cyclopean cairn, a monument to their former life
and to his God, toward which he turned his lens-powered eye.
He gazed into the telescope, across billions of light-years,
calculating all that was and all that was past,
and, in so doing, finally penetrated the ancient spheres,
coming face to face with his God at long last.
It was a void of life, above being as it was below,
and the empty gulfs were as inert, silent, and still
as the buried body of his wife, whereby he had come to know
the loneliness of the depths, of the universe, and all anyone ever will.
There were no golden toilet seats
accommodating Christ in his tomb,
nor does the Golden Calf present her teats
to feed greed, nor is there enough room
where you can stack money bags high
as stepping stones with which to ascend
to the heights of the Heavenly sky
by wealth, or the merits of a stock dividend.
To earn the yield beyond the Gates
or to sell for the profit of the Saved—
in the afterlife the going rates
have no value and have thus caved
to the pettiness of the old rat race,
nor can your stock broker’s insight
save you from that marketplace
nor can insider trading set it right.
Take the private elevator up for a view
within your tallest namesake tower,
but the downturn’s plunge will still take you
at the closing bell of that final hour.
What do you call those who are
when there is no god
meting justice in this world?
To call them angels
would be to belittle
for angels were in premise made
from the golden mold of altruism, whereas humans are
sinful (or so some say)
and yet somehow overcome such sins and
imperfections, such selfishness
imbued by the blood god, Evolution,
and, in bold immolation of
egoism, to give to a child
without kinship of blood,
without immediacy of friendship,
a final wish in this unfair world,
a final reckoning of
as these saints bleed vast oceans of sympathy
for children who,
like innocent flower buds
by imbecilic boots,
are prematurely martyred to
the indifferent god of
Do not think of them as angels
pouring wishes from a magical lamp;
think of them as twinned hearts
harmonizing in rhythm
with those whose hearts will drum too few beats,
carrying on that precious pattern
long after the other has
ceased to silence.
The Catholic faith for her was not as some butterfly
fluttering so lovely upon an easy breeze
while a rainbow arced in a clear blue sky
and cheerful birds sang among the trees—
it was being one-winged and tumbling, nearly killed
by a passing car that did not brake,
or half-smeared on God’s indifferent windshield
careless of however fragile or pretty the butterfly’s make;
it was the lepidopterist pinning it upon
cardboard and encasing it in garish glass
to display the grotesqueries of beauty cruelly gone
and the beauty of grotesqueries as they come to pass,
for her faith was of Testaments both Old and New,
and thus she believed that conviction meant sorrows and agony—
the butterfly caught in a spider’s web, a view
with which I, an atheist, happen to agree.