Paul's Church at Jarrow
Venerable Bede's Cloister
"My Mind is a Monastery, and I am its Monk."
Notes from the breviary of the Father Abbot:
(©R. W. Dillon)
From the lonely cell, a ghostly Carthusian alerts the order at four.
Stirrings of ancient knees in grottos marbled in hollowed floors,
Crafted over centuries by brothers of the gray wool on Good Fridays.
Emotions withheld, tongues of eternal silence
Human moans that bespeak tears and hidden laughter
Amid the fervent stones of the bold faced multi-centuried monastery walls.
Bring the wheels, bring the threads; hoist the salvific bread and twice headed fishes.
He awaits the dawn; the shelter roars with winter's unforgiving winds in faceless windows.
Is it Fra Lippo Lippi? "Zooks!" Or Rabbi Ben Ezra a little too far west of Jerusalem?
Brrrrr. Matins call us. Grrrr. Wait. Seek. Pray.
Alas! Father Abbot is a time traveler, an alien over the millennia,
That metamorph of a spirit come from the twelfth century, with satiric but not irreverent eye,
Eternal reverend of the universe, he time travels, a stowaway aboard Enterprise,
Has found a "room with a view" from the zeitgeist porthole of his celestial monastery,
A veritable Teufelsdröckh from Mont Blanc, the Gregorian temple of the imagination.
Hssst! Vespers. Grrrr. Hmmm...a breviary of edited notes enclosed his paltry cell.
Quid proximum? Videmus.
On donkey day at Juda's stone gate we gather palms,
Dates for the hunger from asp to superstar spread calmly
On the desert floor, on the road where the third one to Emmaus
Called our names in featureless frames purity of gazing sun.
No name has this man, though wizen truly he strode his wraith
Toward the staves as pine scraped the cobbled stones of David's home.
Was it so?; had the deed been done before or after the driven tree?
We awaited the rain amid Juda's parched wells; heavens burned
Fury felt the inchoately modified chunks of woven piety we
Sons of those kings naming none baldly choke the name, beatus vir venit.
Sons beati vires sed nihil in corpore kneel in this stone cathedral,
Time then, time now, time to be. Lacrimae viris. Ecce beatus, mon frère!
The rains that cleanse, the wells that wash, throats of Saxon, beatus vir.
The path winds across the coliseum where second John
Clutches the bepalmed staff worn of terrible, old brass.
Prints impress ancient hands of god upon the stave of past purple
Garments stained red and white run across old John's creased and chiseled
Face of pain, anger, and humility, as smeared red beanies do the day's jawings.
Where is the grace to see tomorrow, the compass to see what I have done?
What is the name I give to thee whose burden descends like iron pyrites
Upon this veined parchment of poles, gyros to infernos around the bend?
Old John bends, blesses the collective mediocrity of town and monastery,
Fancied faithful whose soul-echoes and vacuity absorb his bent total zeitgeist.
Old arched John persists stubbornly, one hour more...will you not watch
One more hour with me, with thee, with anybody who runs the bipeds to via crucis?
Let us exaggerate this old path into a road and march old John, his loving heart,
His ancient descending arms wound around red beanies, to Golgotha once again.
Let us do it again, mein leben, bring the iron, the pegs, the axe to the mount today!
Et ego te absolvo. Amen.
Stragglers were tossed about the windy hillsides
Outside the soiled city, palms all forgotten in the sudden rain,
Falling sweat and humanity down the runnels of a king's clock.
Sleeping, hiding the dozing dozen, herbs of self-preservation
Festered by the stoned entrance, round on square, granite on sand;
Women wondered whether the words would break the darkness,
Saturday's long listless waiting, ever expecting, ever hoping for sunrise.
Strong men lurked in alleys in the dead city of killers, and the one
In granite waiting for the linen to wax holy and fall to the cave's floor.
Creatures of the night mingled toward destiny, shadows of things wanted,
Dreams of reality expected by the word, the beaten voice, the ninth stone.
We had watched, wondered, shaken that there was such villainy,
Mankind toward making toward man-king; who would want such a nature?
Mountains shook; we fell with the fall of millennia replete with dry bones;
Non-sequiturs turned in whirlpool winds by the round stone in the hollow rock...
That evening became that morning, and so all but one woman slept on, waited.
Nothing seemed there to be; nothing there seemed to pass; of nothing some thing came.
An old woman passed in the morning of the between day; she had waved pink in the spring.
This newer city of future grails grew gray with tears; children slept outside castle walls.
St. George's waits, stones and gardens of kirk, the dusty daughter, the mother grieves alone,
Waiting for the winds, or praying for no such sight; death came in the light; he made us all uneasy.
At half mast two times meet at the stave, at the cave entrance sealed. Women with no king.
Time with no distinct locus. Old John lost the compass; old Peter missed the boat.
But not the rock that tunes time with its fork, not the orange stones by St. George's chapel.
Dominus vobiscum. Et expecto.... Amen.
Mary Mag from hills and dalen--she rides currents of morn as she dances the frown,
An urn of unctuosity swirls fervidly inside the jugs of ancient Bathsheba,
Its fecund wells ooze soulfully their lucent strains upon the Samarian sunrise.
Tara ça va, lily of the desert, she wears gray gowns of Babylon, white tears in her eyes;
In her hair golden combs of dawn flash élan into the waning shadows of dubious night.
Can this the matrix be? A friend of friends? Wild maelstrom of maenadic beauty her face.
Darker than hell's pendulous pits the Red Sea waves taunt the crests of civilized restraint,
As barbarian black curls strut and stomp the raspy bushes blocking her uxorial, heraldic panting.
No immmortally mirrored lady of Shalott, no tempered locks of placid Grecian isles is Mary,
On the road to Canterbury with a nun's tale none dare chant at monastic conventions,
She rides no burro, no palfrey, no Arabian stallion soaring in pigments of majestic black.
Bride mourns the bride in cashmere tears; light beams of love motion the granite of brown
Toward the greater glory; cloth surges the dawn of glorification as beams rise toward
The desert dawn; cloth seams upward embracing the love lost in the dark angel's kingdom,
Reaches, rises, seeks entrance into the tomb of living essence; love spews forth; it rises.
Two mantles merge to form the serge of creation's once-stained garments, a millennium
Coalesced in a moment of rock, liquid soothes the tormented spirits, souls, bodies
Now one, now glorified by Mary's love in the sunshine of an eternal moment,
One emerges to walk the heavens and the earth, the child of reconstructed time,
Mary, bride, mother, goddess of gods, Hebrew queen of the birthing dawn of our lives.
Mary Mag, of dalen and hills; an old dog's sinews strained into rest, dying unto dance,
Grazing by the grotto's clutches, eyes once glazed now peel and glorify the finale of night;
A milky tail waves and greets the glare with golden ears; four white, supple limbs
Dance with glee toward new Jerusalem. Gloria in excelsis. Amen.
Un autre jour...vient le frère, le père joli?--
Monk's Hood Flower
After seven days blessing the synthehol of ten forward subspace paces,
Father Buddha found himself ensconced upon the Palatinate,
Vassel lord of headboard, kneelery, and antigrav sofa,
Searching for meaning, old monk, like any other loafer.
What were these deeds now of death, woman, and life seven days hence,
Where are the mercenary soldiers, the blanket, and the craps?
Where be the darkhead, the doers, old Karol, and the thieves?
What are the yin and yang of all this historic pushing and pulling
Atop the Palatine hill falling behind the rill of ancient, decaying Rome?
Can a twelfth century frère de dieu be the reality of times now and then?
It happened, then and now...did it not? Mens, mentis seulement, mon frère?
Extra me, le réalité extra me, c'est l'enfant terrible, et
c'est tout le monde.
Le père rises, kneels against the bulkhead warp whirling towards Parliament.
On Thames' dull night whereon thousands of souls bristle in the bright cold,
Nether yin springs reluctant this morning to kiss the great yang mother,
Passing in the Tudor debating, chilling stillness, echoing its lion winter walls;
Old Oliver shouted down a king here once, and sextet Henry got some head;
But chrysanthemum regina hears Westminster rehearse her chants of joy,
Risen choirs of tenor Christ boys, and her hand summoned Pavarotti's kiss.
Old Ben moans the brittle night hours; the grail awaits the lavender crown.
The mother like no other peers the yeomen and the common sleeves,
Bedraggled shoes of fishermen netted in the vessel captain's widow.
No cringings of frail followers whose teeth chatter in the city of cowering men,
No murdering sandals toppled by cam geer camelhide wheeled boots,
No donkey, cow, and monk quaking behind the yidbashed nativity doors. None.
This grailed city of Joseph encapsulates time into the womb of Westminster Hall,
Joy, restlessness, singing souls await, as does St. George's, this gracious wraithe.
The blackened queen from all saints to queens the unterhallen express rides,
Beyond the masses, the queue, the mall, the cenotaph soldiers royale marched,
Blue dry eyes, blinking in space, whisper lilies and kiss the dappled dawn.
Gloriously, le père abbot levitating lavishly along the apostolic Thames,
Joins the queue passing, purple, gold, vermillion, the matrix and the grail.
See the lion, the dragon, the angelic harp, and the bow--Dieu et Mon Droit--
Around Palatine hill, Will, Hal, Charlie, Annie, and Phil wail-- and wassail.
To the caisson's black pitched wheels, bumpety bump,
Centurion yeomen, centuplicated frail bones and sentient benedicite's.
Again they will cortege us, again we regina will rise, sleep, then arise eternal.
To the forum from pale Palatine, to the Abbey from Parliament Hall pinkly lit,
To the altar, the abbey nave, gothic crossed, where we shall again see god.
The Merry Widows of Windsor
Old mortality reaps two pence, but princesses of grace oft spare a moment;
On the cobblestone road to Windsor through Hyde Park's tarred
Iron gates to Proserpine's lair rolls the hearse of the merry widow.
Fifty years the dowager lulled bluebirds into song on the castle patio,
Praying green sprouts, pink hyacinths, defusing the bombs of time,
Easing into consciousness the antitote to the century's malicious fractotrogs,
Infusing grace as lipped evil fragged Bucky's walls, deserted road to St. George's.
But no, now she stares with Lady Chuck, Hal's bastard, and groomed Vicky's
Indian empire pearl powdered in VRI casings and native Zulu chants.
By George, what splendid companions to share dust through galactic time,
Centuries to drum above this red guarded road of black watching pipes,
Wailing me mountain home as old Bunyan longed for the dream of god's city,
Celestial brother John , when done, no beginning and no end, no gain and no loss.
Death, be proud this day, a spirit defiant, no nea, assertive of everlasting yea,
Enters the veiled temples of Amazonian shores to rent the gold temples clean.
Clear Canterbury, our le père abbot was he, songs and tales, snores
Psalms of mystery, strength, dignity, a smile and candles rather well done,
Wicks of psalms, horizons seen be not horizon's granite fractured stones,
Windsor's hollowed grounds, vaults of canonized bones ripe for shaken Ezechiel.
St George's procession swallows the hearses of the living and caisson bells of gray noon,
Entombed through centuries of te absolvo and runlets of pensioned lacrimaes.
The monk of pilgrimage, one notre père de la revolution, finds no incense,
Just a red beanie le père abbot splashed on the fresco ceiling, that chiseling chap!
Father Abbot grooves funerals, for he is a gothic nave, tenor bells and sanctuary!
Christian his name once, George and the dragon met Thomas à Becket,
One Louis in a nonce, the other Henry cursed morto into the thicket diffused.
Fête de celêbre, brownie among beanies, he eyes the chickenbone
Gig gnashed out for abbeys and lady sixfingers out for a dash of salt and oil.
Windsor's wife, now matriarch, flees among the rooks infesting Henry's gate,
Centuries of dryasdust beams, rocks panelled by chickenbones and vixen bite,
Le père abbot, Geoffrey's monk( no friar he), the rock under the left foot.
The merry widows of Windsor, sore-eyed sockets ghastly ridden of selves,
Why is this merry widow umbra, buried in stone? She saved the twentieth century.
The second mother now assumes mummery's time warped throne,
Endlessness its crown, tears its priest, pursed red lips its confessors at St. George's.
God save the Queen? Father abbot quips, "By god, she'll need it!"
"By George, she decreed it!" Fiat voluntas tua. For thine is the kingdom.
"Amen," Orlando Gibbons. Nea. The merry widows of Windsor they.
No Galilean calming the storm, no tertia die, no dull stirrings in the midnite rain,
Blue Mary of the mountain, merry widow, bears perfumed flowers into the rock.
Spring red roses, pink hyacinth nanny waves gloves and garlands into the bones;
Melted forever are the icy walls of withered Windsor's pikes and castled stone;
its slated vaults moan like a child supped upon the blue bosom of eternal energy.
"Upon a lonely river my soul meanders,
Seeking the watershed of my faith."
South to north, down the indian river route
Against the currents of yesteryear, in doubt,
A time warp bears its cargo of woolen mercy,
Ensconcing upon a limegreen troglyte tower,
Two toes bitten by the noonday spring sun,
A civilization unknown to archaeologists of suit,
Commitment noumenal the new well arch de l'eau;
North it points to cooler climes, eyeing the
Stream of the tribe mon-is-theirs, as the tonsured
Lout climbs and intakes the sour effulgence of
Newer mankind flowing furiously, a Parisian slough
Where mon-is-yours tweaks a perfidious nostril,
Espies, past the gangrene phallus of new well, a book,
And ambulatory bipeds launched upon the doubt.
Medieval piscina suckle piranha in the Mayan bayou,
Consuming effluvia of a hundred pismire of l'école,
Of pools incestuously ground into pods of humanoids.
Celtic le père abbot mantra mutters, praying for
Chimneys and attenuated eyeball lights on pavements.
"Never," says le père, "have I seen life undo
So many; nascent lives, kinetic unpotentialed,
Reversed new town Isaac's law with silent jaw.
In the beginning there was only gnawing inertia
Breathing musky mutterings into the Appian way;
Cobbled bricks transverse thin air of a petulant wasteland
Abandoned by Adonai and imodium Ezechiel per factum.
I never knew that God had abandoned so many,
Hollow shells by the seashore of the undermined desert.
I never knew das nichts had claimed so many;
Vagrant multitudes eyeball-lacing lacerated tongues,
Toddlers rolling essence about drifting asphalt sands,
Carbuncular cannabis driftwoods in unmindful currents;
Medusas are forward-falling , kissing unbuttoned footholds
In furrowed brows streamed by an unremitting sun.
Never have so few dwelt in sonatas of so many;
Adolescent spittle bleaches the bones of goathoofs
Whose adulthood in time future may never conceive
Its own essence, never growing, never going,
Never longing, never belonging, time's flaccid womb.
The Appian way and l'école de l'eau vide, bien sûr,
Empties its viaducts; the century of the fudge factory
Churns on, stirs around the compass, as insapience backs
Up the new well--no Bethesda dans l'école de l'enfer.
Atop the hanging gardens I chant my laudamus,
Scaling these Babylons, bastions of such promise,
'Tantum Ergo' sung, tout ensemble, with Thomas Aquinas."
Requiem aeternam...dona eis...adoramus te. Amen.