Pity the censorious


Evil writhes in glistening coils in the

scaled and furred hoofed and clawed


glistens in luxury and concupiscence

the moistly slip-sliding of nakedness.


Women tempting with apples breasts moon-

buttocked laugh at the pure eyes averted.


The paintbrush probes scalpel-like beneath

the skin delighting in entrails devoured


and the charred flavour of flaming hair

a dab of the branding iron the flaying knife


all the devious instruments for prising out pain

you paint with delectation. Only a priest-painter


clothed in the hair shirt of purity and self-

inflicted pain an artist with an aura of sanctity


could weigh in the balance

and find so many wanting.


Pity the censorious for theirs is the arid desert

of ash the blood-soaked sand of Golgotha.

Toxic garden

Rising to Ronovan’s challenge to write a poem based on The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych by Heironymous Bosch.

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They were not so naïve in those days of mass misery and oppression, when grotesques crouched in every doorway, and famine lurked at every winter’s end. Not so naïve as to believe in Heaven without Hell, master without slave, and the divine right of mad despots without the servitude of the poor.

Even then, the world was a teeming mess of futility, navel-gazing and lotus-eating. Paradise is solitude, the quiet of nature. The end, coming soon, to screens all around the world, is Hell and the final madness. So sophisticated and worldly-wise, are we, yet we will fall into the same pit of screaming darkness as the leprous villeins who feared the incubi and succubi of their dreams and that the sky might fall upon their heads.

Scream to the sky

the rich and powerful

are not listening