Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sweet Virtue

Latest installment in the ongoing series of theraputic poetic efforts. Old Catholics will definitely get it. The rest of you probably also.

If you are completely unfamiliar with the Baltimore Catechism, there's an online edition at: For the purposes of the poem, you'll find the stuff about virtues at #10. A real blast from the past. 

Far from virtuous, Whitman's candy was (and is) sinfully good

Sweet Virtue

From here, on the cusp of the globe’s

final capitulation to the whirlpool of ignorance,

arrogance, and lassitude swirling us all

to kingdom come—the final drain—remembering

a world that demarked good from evil

as starkly as digital Wall Street from analog

Any Other Street—I say remembering, not imagining.

It’s a tad embarrassing; scary, too,

to grasp the gulf I’ve crossed to stand

at the present precipice.

All the way from Baltimore Catechism,

that compendium of answers

to every vital question about the sole

vital matter of existence: that is,

the eternal fate of your eternal soul—

all, all that mattered. All the way, I say,

from celestial certitude to beyond

WTF, here, peering over the precipice.

Everything Catholic dissolved in Mystery.

But the Catechism brooked no doubt,

condemned all query, banished logic

to the Kingdom of Tautological Truth.

The meaning of life? Death? Answers galore!

Virtue? Questions #122-135 dispatch thorny

questions about that, laying virtues out

as neatly as Whitman’s Sampler bon bons.

Hierarchical, of course. Theological virtues  

(God their “proper object”) on top row:

Glistening foil-wrapped faith; dark chocolate

hope, swathed in silver; and cherry-creamed charity,

wrapped in red, the one you save till last.

Strewn beneath and layered below

a veritable host of gifts and fruits

of the Holy Ghost. Virtues in glorious,

oft perplexing profusion. Virtues moral and

cardinal: hard-shelled fortitude, jelly-filled justice.

Continency, that unknown nougat. Long-suffering,

which nobody chose on purpose. Modesty,

curled in the corner of the box. And those

nutty ones: benignity and sugary filial piety.

And chastity: the one everybody tasted

and put back in the box.
Post a Comment