Archive for the ‘Religiosity’ Category


June 11, 2009


Som natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon
~Milton, Book 12 of Paradise Lost

A flaming sword describes the figure 8
against the calculations on a gate
of metal angels, fiends and seraphim.
Its cycling flare invigorates the dim
and adamant across the silver plate

before the garden’s godlike profligate.
Enlightened as to what might compensate
the primal ash—a death that offers him
a flaming sward

or Paradise hereafter—he’ll await
the play of sleep that holds his mate
between the roots and briars with a grim
and steely animal. Its phantom limb
and foliating tounge manipulate
a flaming sword.

Illustration from R. Crumb’s new The Book of Genesis Illustrated.


Borman, Lovell, Anders, and Armstrong

December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve, 1968

Catastrophe of Sparrows

July 4, 2008

For Oran Ryan

I often share my morning meal with birds,
croissants beside a glittering marina
shadowed by the towers. In the words
of Francis, all our civilized patina
cracks before the cold magnificence
of sparrows–we exclude them from our love
at peril of the vilest recompense
of man as well as judgment from above.

It’s harder than a fist. Like Catholic school.
Behind all admonition lies the threat
of metal rulers and a golden rule–
the sorry knuckles bruised, the schoolboy debt
to Baby Jesus paid before the class.
“Exclude them from our love…” Another crumb,
another set of beady eyes. A crass
relationship, all parties cold and dumb.

Those crows contorted Francis’s ideal,
his simple observation of the world.
I know this, yet subconsciously I feel
that all the high-priced bread bits that I’ve hurled
to hoppers on the paving stones redound
to my salvation. Thus the hook is set
in childhood. Thus survival on the ground
is subjugated to a crude vignette

of earthly paradise or paradise
itself. A love ulterior, untrue.
If Francis had a look at this device
I’m sure he’d have no problem seeing through
its central mechanism–politics.
He’d go and dig himself another hole
beneath the shining city’s dirty bricks
and reevaluate the human soul

in light of the supreme triumvirate
of science, government, and industry
that’s taken hold of our novitiate.
Our life on Earth. The stinking ginkgo tree
disgorges yet another breakfast mate.
How strange this sparrow looks. How out of place
beside the Wintergarden’s sunlit gate
of glass, inside this crystal case,

this World Financial Center. Like a cold
medieval souvenir just barely able
to maintain its fearful balance, old
as Francis cowering below the table,
underneath the paving stones. He’s praying.
As am I, with little balls of bread,
Confused about some quid pro quo, delaying
My arrival in the glassworks overhead.


May 8, 2008

By the 2030s, the nonbiological portion of our intelligence
will predominate.–
Ray Kurzweil

Are science and religion converging? No.–Richard Dawkins

Un-ring the bell? Impossible. It’s come,
Dispersed itself in every bronchiole
And office tower. Now the isotope
Of unknown metal bangs in every hole,
The slam of withered hand against a drum
Advancing like some crimson-slippered pope.

A lock of numbers. Law of propagation.
Our biology becomes a field
Of leapfrog, silicon evolving from
Petroleum. The softer senses yield
To matrices of predetermination,
Measured by a hand across a drum.

A rapture of electron retinas,
Robotic dreams, and sacramental math
Reforms the logos to a barcarole
That chokes the solace of our doubt. The path
Ahead is cleared and charted by antennas.
Silos rise. A fire in every hole.


April 28, 2008

It’s everything that made you stay away.
The band-sawed bodies, flesh become concrete
and peeled artistically from bones that play
at basketball or dance. A human meat
extravaganza: Sideshow! Science! Sales
receipts! The likelihood you’ll never eat
another ham. But apprehension pales
before experience, which I have gained
begrudgingly. I’ll spare you those details…
and tell you how they carved the heart and stained
the arteries. And thus you will experience
a human travesty, your views obtained
without a tad of morbid dalliance.
By this, my harrowing might come to good,
and yours not compromise your abstinence.

A moral question rises, and it should!
The casting call: A score of Chinese damned,
dissected, torn or simply milled like wood.
It seems the Chinese century has slammed
into the Seaport like a ton of bricks
as disregard for human rights is rammed
into Manhattan like the threadbare dicks
of these cadavers dangling in the light
of high-rent public space. The New York Knicks
should get this kind of play! It isn’t right.
Apparently it’s legal…in Madrid
as well as in Vienna. Gesundheit!
Just thinking that the pitcher may have “did”
somebody with the fingers squeezed upon
a pristine ball is messin’ with the kid!

We voice a strong objection and move on—
beginning with the basic skeleton
bedecked in musculature. Gone
the pliant skin and “exogelatin”
of anything remotely humankind.
The fat is out, the acetone is in,
which leaves us with a polyester rind
that resonates with monster matinees
and robot porn. Move forward and we find
the veins and arteries in lighted trays
of…could that be formaldehyde? Perhaps.
We seem to be beyond all EPAs.
It’s red and blue. Astonishing. These chaps
have laced a bloody galaxy of gore
together—valves and pipes and bubble traps.

And next the nervous system. Which is more
or less a snoozer in comparison
to all those brilliant tubes they had next door.
It’s gray, like the intestine… and so on.
Attention spans are merciful sometimes.
It all blends into one big Fulan Gong
of dancers having done their time for crimes
unknown, extracted from some hidden jail,
then plasticized and peeled like plastic limes.
The specimens, it must be said, are male
except for one—and there it is, all right.
an overlit, explicit piece of tail.
A temporary sign hangs to the right
suggesting that they may have gone too far
with fetuses ahead. An amber light.

And as we pull our heads out of the jar,
a bone of metaphysics come to mind.
We trundle to the subway or the car
to Jersey or Long Island in a kind
of disassociation, having seen
the mechanisms of our lives. Remind
me, though, exactly how this magazine
of shattered parts we viewed comes back together,
how the system acts when lights turn green
and how our bodies are a kind of weather
vane and metaphor for light, betrothed
and married to a single spirit. There
is little at the Seaport treasure trove
that speaks to me of bodies! That cement
is nothing like the flesh in which I’m clothed.

© Rick Mullin

41 Junior High School Science Projects

February 25, 2008


Count ’em.

The Passion of the Bleeding Saints

November 2, 2007

We’ll pass the Padre Pio Cabernet
around this stained glass tank of piercéd sides,
repeating what those tiny voices say

from somewhere in their broken pots of clay,
petitioning the would-be suicides.
Hey, pass that Padre Pio Cabernet!

Impressive, how we put the grape away
and squeeze it through our tourniquets in tides—
Yet frequently we hear the voices say

they don’t believe our drippy passion play.
“Your pantomime,” they say, “of Mr. Hydes
will pass like Padre Pio Cabernet

through Mother Goose!” And just the other day
we heard novitiate cathedral guides
repeating what the tiny voices say:

“The bleeders’ oughta cork the damn Padre
and mop up all their sloppy old peptides.”
We’ll pass… The Padre Pio Cabernet
repeats on tiny voices anyway.

Shrine to Satan

July 14, 2007

The neighbor’s child has built a muddy shrine
to Satan in our yard. And I’m supposed
to cut the lawn? OK, but look at those
croquet clubs that she used (good God, they’re mine!)
to pound her pentagrams of chicken bone
into the ground. The handles are unscrewed
from all the hammer heads. It’s kind of shrewd
the way she placed that Playskool™ telephone.

Still, little girls should not touch garden tools
or take the plastic rake out of the shed–-
she’s tied it with those jump ropes to the tree.
A shattered flower pot. The Barbie head.
Horrific how this child has learned the rules
of Belial for sculpting in debris.

The Passion of St. Al’s, Caldwell, NJ

April 6, 2007


Triduum Times

April 5, 2007


My third grade Jesus business in song and dance.