Tag Archives: Religion

An Angry Saint

[“Santa in the Underworld” pt. II (selections)]–please read pt. III (to be posted immediately after)

I’d loved him well as any other child
And hated seeing Santa mope and grieve.
Throughout our talk he’d never laughed or smiled.
It was apparent that he’d not relieve
His pain by raging like a beast that’s wild.
To mend his mood, I asked of Christmas Eve
And hoped the change of topic would delight
A man who’d lived to do his work that night.

With eggs we find we rarely can be sure
About which sort of beast might later hatch,
And strangers’ cats when stroked might gently purr
But are as apt to give one’s face a scratch.
Intentions and what might in time occur
Aren’t always made into a merry match.
The phrase I’d deemed a light and harmless query,
Ignited anger that I found quite scary.

He shouted, “So, you really want to know?
You’ll hear: of ev’ry groundless accusation;
Of trials that I had to undergo;
and endless months of loathsome litigation
I faced each time I moved my little toe.
In short, you’ll hear a tale of defamation.
So, take a seat and make yourselves at home
While learning of a fall like that of Rome
*

*[Alternate line: While hearing woes enough to fill a tome]

[I get so angry that I nearly faint
When thinking of the ghastly, gloomy light
And misleading coat of morbid leaden paint
Which people used to twist and then indict
The things I’d done for years without complaint
Or being threatened with a legal fight.]
Attend me well, for now I will begin
A catalog of my alleged sin.

We’ll start with fusses made about my deer.
One group demanded that the deer be freed
From ‘cruelly flying for one night a year.’
The group declared I’d treat the cervine breed
As harshly as a heartless overseer
[…Who liked to whip a back to make it bleed].
And, when I showed the loving care I gave,
‘Twas said, ‘A happy slave is still a slave’.

Another group that gave my rear a spank
Was less concerned about them being free.
Although I’m German (not the least a Yank),
‘Support Detroit and auto industry’
Was screamed by ev’ry Cletus-Bob and Hank
Who ever spoke of having liberty.
[‘It’d help the people selling cars and oil
If cars, not deer, did Santa’s Christmas toil’.]

Some other pesky folks proclaimed me vile
And said my list of Naughty and of Nice
Appeared to be a voyeuristic file
For cats who prey upon the baby mice
[In other words, the creepy pedophile
Whose virtue is a mask to cover vice].
They also claimed I robbed their privacy
And was committing data piracy.

…and nearly ev’ry place I’d try to go,
Protesting packs would keep me from the door
While crying, ‘He’s a sexist ‘so and so’!’
They thought I’d called some little ladies ‘whore’
Because I often chanted triple ‘ho!’
[Which was a jolly laugh and nothing more].
It seems a man who’s merry in these times
Is apt to be suspected of some crimes.

Note: This ‘catalog of alleged misdeeds’ will eventually grow. For now, this section is an unfinished bridge between the “Part I” and “Will Preaches [to Saint Nick]”.

SANTA SPEAKS

[SANTA IN THE UNDERWORLD (pt II) By Paul “Whitberg” Burgess]

“There, dead of sorrow fed by sad defeat,
Is Santa Claus—beloved of girls and boys.
His elves and he no longer could compete
With companies who specialize in toys
[Whose makers overseas can barely eat
On wages earned for bringing children joys].
The War of Toys was one which Santa lost
By failing to reduce his products’ cost.”

The empty sleigh on which he sadly sat
Reflected eyes of kids who’ve lost a pet.
He didn’t look too merry, jolly, fat,
or [please insert another epithet].
From slippered feet to faded Santa hat,
He’d weigh not fifty kilos soaking wet.
The times had weighed so heavily on him
That he’d become extr[a]ordinar’ly slim.

“I was as close,” said Santa, “to my elves
As any sword is to its sturdy hilt.
They put a part of me and of themselves
In ev’ry crafted toy they ever built.
But now our toys aren’t found upon the shelves,
And elvish sweat’s no longer being spilt.
…[and folk who left the elves without their jobs
are often heard to call them ‘mooching slobs’].

“But Santa,” said my ghostly guide,
“What matters is what people can afford
…Not whether toys were made with elvish pride.”
“Your head’s as empty as a swollen gourd
With little more than putrid air inside,”

A red but not-so-jolly Santa roared.
Then after finishing some breathless panting,
The saint began a round of angry ranting:

“Consumers shopping at retailers’ stores
Today will often pay as high a price
Though people viewed as creatures on all fours
Are paid a penny for the sold device.
While Captain Corp’rate’s swollen profit soars,
The local labor force is squashed like mice.
Still, lots of pious people often say
That Captain Corp’rate’s bound to save the day.”

I thought, “At home, the Poli-Pundit Clan
Might claim that Santa was a socialist,
But I’d suggest he’s just a broken man
(Or ghost) who has become extremely pissed
Because the bus’ness that his fam’ly ran
Evaporated like a spray of mist.”
Although his rage was getting out of hand,
Its causes weren’t so hard to understand.

 

DANTE

[from “In the Underworld” by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess]

We came then to a place where figures scoff
Eternally at those they call “unclean”.
Through verbal clouds of scorn that made me cough,
I spied that justly famous Florentine
Who put in Hell all men who’d pissed him off.
[…I shouldn’t use a phrase so damn obscene
To speak of he who used his words to paint
What Hell is plus a bit of what it ain’t].

Although the cloudy place was poorly lit,
I could perceive that Dante was quite sore,
And Will explained the cause of Dante’s fit:
“The poet, being one whom most adore,
Resents that some aspiring modern wit
Has housed him on the Righteous Scoffers’ Shore.
To Purgatory, Hell, or worlds below,
The Florentine had planned no more to go.

And now he feels as though he’s being mocked
And skewered by a batty youthful hack
[Not even thirty years from being rocked
Inside a cradle; lest he’d meet the rack,
The little lad should keep his dwelling locked
And, as you Yankees say it, watch his back.
[…but shields for blocking blows from weaponry
Don’t stop Assaults by Means of Poetry].

Increasing Dante’s rage, despair, and grief
Is that he’s been removed from Paradise
(To dwell in Hades’) by that scoundrel-thief.
This heathen underworld of fire and ice
Has gained his hate but never his belief.
To clarify, this couplet will suffice:
“I loathe this pagan place,” he oft insists
While still denying that the place exists.

The fruit produced by Dante’s fertile mind—
The works which landed him among the greats—
Include a realm of tortures he designed
[Where, by him, people were to hellish fates
And never-ending pain and woe consigned].
Into the pits of Hell they all were heaved
If not believing as he had believed.

He nonetheless will hold a stubborn grudge
Against this fledgling poet who now dares
To judge the man who likes to play the judge.
Although he whines, his torture’s one that bears
A gentler stamp…he pushed but gets a nudge:
He’s forced to visit all the lonely lairs
Where those condemned before (by him) now dell
[That is, he visits those he sent to Hell].”

Although I didn’t verbally reply,
I thought, “It’s sad but not the least unjust
To see believers in “an eye for eye”
Enraged when that belief in which they trust
Is plucked from dwelling in the holy sky
And brought to where one might perceive its rust.
But soon I had a change of attitude
[Which better fits a kind, compassionate dude].

[It’s only fair to say he does presume
To place some souls in Paradise, as well…
But readers mostly like to read of gloom
And tend to focus on the book of Hell.
(Of Milton’s epics, it’s the one of doom
That English teachers have to learn so well…)
Unless you have an academic post,
The happy books are where your cup might coast.]”

GREED/BERNIE MADOFF

[from “In the Underworld”]

“In modern wars to satisfy ambition,
The weapons aren’t always deadly arms
With slicing blades or piercing ammunition,
Nor anything that norm’lly kills or harms
(In all but wars of stony, cold attrition).
It’s lack of shame and wealth of cool and charms
That now can make a money-moving don
Of one who knows the Art of Clever Con.

That dandy fellow, looking overfed,
Is Bernie Madoff (who made off with a sack
Of cash)…” I stopped to say, “But he’s not dead,”
And Will replied, “Those bringing utter wrack
And ruin—cons with victims in the red—
Abound. Their count’s too high for me to track.
The name I thought he donned, we now may doff.
What’s key is that he’s eating at a trough.”

I waited for my guide to speak of greed
And carry on about this evidence
That seemed to show a human’s sinful deed
Avenged by holy wrath and Providence.
Instead, he said, “This man will always feed
But never feel fulfilled. Will penitence
Arise from tortures that will never stop
(Like feeding souls until they’re fit to pop)?

How could this torture ever benefit,
Enlighten, or—as some may hope—deter
Those never seeing or believing it?
Despite the righteous wrath this might incur,
I’ll say this torture’s neither right nor fit
For Hades’ worst-behaving mongrel cur.
The foulest people still deserve release.
They’ll find no bliss—at least allow them peace.”

“Sympathy for the Famous Devil”

Some critics might, as youngsters call it, “hate”
And argue  that it’s utter vanity
To moan about  a life which seems so great.
Forgive their envy and inanity.
Who wouldn’t curse the cruel and crushing weight
Of famous living’s wild insanity?
We should salute the selfless sacrifice
You make to entertain us at a price.

Selections from The New House of Fame–by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

The Wit and Wisdom of Byron

I am having such a good time reading Byron’s Don Juan would like to share some passages from the first canto of  what might be the language’s most enjoyable long poem. [The witty lines are so sharp and smooth that one often forgets that the stanzas are in the exceptionally difficult ‘ottava rima’ form.]

ON LOVE

1.116
Oh Plato, Plato, you have paved the way
With your confounded fantasies to more
Immoral conduct by the fancied sway
Your system feigns o’er the controlless core
Of human hearts than all the long array
Of poets and romancers…
1.117
…But who, alas, can love and then be wise?
Not that remorse did not oppose temptation;
A little she strove and much repented,
And whispering, ‘I will ne’er consent’—consented.
1.65
…Yet he was jealous, though he did not show it,
For jealousy dislikes the world to know it.
1.62
Wedded she was some years and to a man
Of fifty, and such husbands are in plenty;
And yet I think instead of such a one
‘twere better to have two of five and twenty…

On Humans [and especially “progress”]

1.129
What opposite discoveries we have seen,
Signs of true genius and of empty pockets!
One makes new noses, one a guillotine,
One breaks your bones, one sets them in their sockets…

1. 132
This is the patent age of new inventions
For killing bodies and saving souls,
All propagated with the best intentions…
[These] are ways to benefit mankind, as true
Perhaps as shooting them at Waterloo.

1.133
Man’s a phenomenon, one knows not what,
And wonderful beyond all wondrous measure.
‘tis pity though in this sublime world that
Pleasure’s a sine and sometimes sin’s a pleasure.
Few mortals know what end they would be at,
But whether glory, power or love or treasure,
The path is through perplexing ways, and when
The goal is gained, we die you know—and then?

Miscellaneous Passages of Extraordinary Wit:

1. 183
None can say that this was not good advice;
The only mischief was it came too late.
Of all experience ‘tis the usual price,
A sort of income tax laid on by fate…
1.77
Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet
The unexpected death of some old lady
Or gentleman of seventy years complete,
Who’ve made ‘us youth’ wait too, too long already
For an estate or cash or country-seat…
1.83
…A quiet conscience makes one so serene.
Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That all the apostles would have done as they did.

1.218
What is the end of fame? ‘Tis but to fill
A certain portion of uncertain paper.
Some liken it to climbing up a hill,
Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapour.
For this men write, speak, preach, and heroes kill,
And bards burn what they call their midnight taper,
To have, when the original is dust,
A name, a wretched picture, and worse bust.

Soul-Destroying Sounds of Archaic Lamps

3 Minutes, 3 Parodies
I hope this post won’t come off as mean-spirited. My targets are not all free verse poets but rather those free verse poets who– without knowing much about formal meter or literary history and conventions– write off all formal verse as old fashioned. These parodies are supposed to be fun… feel free to laugh at them or to ignore them, but please do not become upset;)
I.

Papercut-thin

slicing my soul

each time she looks me in the eyes

and punctures my mouth with

swords of whore rebel dragon

tongue.

II.

Those wide-eyed youths

thinking they’ve earned life experience

with their passing knowledge of Hume, Nietzsche

other heretics I’ll see burning

from the burnished, embroidered

seat inscribed “Righteous prevaileth over skeptics”–

reading they missed when buried

in thin tree remnants

dried cold bits of bark

lacking life

lacking truth

worm-eaten.

I’ll sit

next

to

my

Maker

the Earth’s Maker.

III.

I-Pod Touch Mini

Aural highway exorcising

impious silence

“Christian Persecution in America”

-This poem is not an attack on Christians but rather a critique of those complaining of persecution while living in one of the safest places on Earth for members of their religion.
–Paul

“Persecution has become the rule of modern times—
We face declining freedom,” Pastor chimes.
But name a president who’s slandered God,
And find a place where Christians bear the rod,
where on the streets a person glances down
No church is filled with nearly half the town.
The lost majorities that you often mourn
Are rearing children who are Christians born.
While people’s blood in other lands is spilled,
You’re free of any fear of being killed.
Unless your kind is hearing threats of death,
Those false complaints are only wastes of breath.
You’ve been less wronged than you’ve supposed
Because no view exists that’s not opposed.

A sonnet by Paul Burgess

“What if it’s true?” and “Join the right club!”

PLEASE NOTE: The following post is not about religious beliefs. Careful readers will understand that the post criticizes the ways in which some people express their beliefs and phrase their attempts to convert others.

I. “What if it’s true?”

This phrase, which I have often seen on billboards and bumper stickers, resembles the “persuasive” words an armed robber uses to influence his victim’s way of thinking. When the robber says, “Give me your money, or I’ll shoot,” the victim likely wonders, “What if it’s true? What if he will shoot me?”; unwilling to take such a risk, the victim fearfully surrenders his money. The robber might hold an empty gun, and he might not have the “guts” to shoot, but he succeeds because he understands the psychology of fear. [Do you really think the best analogy for religion is that of a casino in which cautious gamblers must be talked into making what seems to be a safer bet?] Our world has enough fear in it. Preach of peace and love, or remain silent.

II. “Join the right club!”

Another phrase found on several bumper stickers reads: “I believe in God. Join the right club.” While I respect people’s right to express their beliefs, I wish that these people would use less childish and petty ways of appealing to others. Phrases like “Join the right club” prey on insecure people’s need to belong, to avoid feeling inadequate, or—in schoolyard language—to be “one of the cool kids”. Is the point of spirituality to be right, to be popular, to be praised by others? Christianity has dominated the last 2,000 years of Western civilization; considering that many of the Europe and America’s greatest writers have been Christians, there surely must be a wealth of inspiring phrases that can top something on par with the taunts of a playground bully. [One must also consider whether such phrases are likely to convert nonbelievers or only to “pump up” and amuse believers. Implying that people belong to the wrong club—i.e. that they, their parents, or their culture chose poorly—is more likely to provoke them than convert them. True communication occurs only when no party feels disparaged or threatened. ]

“Jove and Arcadian Callisto” [Practical Morals from Mythology]

Further advice for surviving in the world of Classical Mythology, by Paul Burgess

If you’d prefer to not become a bear,
Do not let Jove remove your underwear.

[Callisto’s “crime” was having a child after being raped by Jove. For this crime, Hera turned the girl into a bear. A moral we see throughout the classics is: Do not let one of the Universe’s most powerful entities rape you…]