Ghoulish Machinery Set to Whirling*


(collage by Óglach)


There inside the gothic arch

the whirling purple satin stain

mouths the words and makes the mark

and calls me by my given name

The limestone drips with solemn sweat

the windows let the sunlight in

colored by bits of broken glass

shaped in silhouettes of sin

All this time I’ve been deprived

the chance to make a simple step

to open doors to well worn paths

each of which must lead to death

But none more certain than this place

where no heart can find a stable hold

beneath the flagstones the lies will hide

and dust will flour the native bones

It wasn’t me, I try to say

It wasn’t me, the silent cry

It couldn’t be, it’s not my way

and besides I’ve only just arrived—


*The title comes from a line in Bringing the Vatican to Justice, an article by American neuroscientist and author Sam Harris, who described Catholicism as “ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposing winds of shame and sadism.”




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62 Responses to Ghoulish Machinery Set to Whirling*

  1. megaeggz says:

    Wow, dark. Nice collage as well 😀

    Liked by 5 people

  2. WoW, I’m bookmarking this and rereading the poem several more times. I think each reading will bring different thoughts and images to my feeble brain which is what poetry should do.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. “shaped in silhouettes of sin” — divine.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ginger says:

    Powerfully thought provoking …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. crow says:

    Really excellent work here. I wish I could work rhyme like this.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I am with saywhatumean2say. There is more to digest at each reading. I will come back.

    Liked by 3 people

    • oglach says:

      You are always welcome in my house, Katherine. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      • It really is a tour de force, Mr O. I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to have realised you were a poet as well as a prose writer. Is it horribly gauche to say that I follow it until the last stanza (when you switch to the first person) but then I have no idea what you are on about? I need to get my Year 12 English Lit. teacher, Sister Deirdre to work through it with me, then I’d get it!

        Liked by 2 people

      • oglach says:

        I think the last stanza is awkward. When I write poems, I write in a stream of consciousness. That last bit is supposed to be from an infant’s perspective—I just got here, how can I be a sinner, why do I need baptism, and so on. The poem is in part about my growing up Catholic but it was the discovery of infant remains at a former home for unwed mothers in Galway that got me writing. So while I stand by the sentiment, the last stanza didn’t feel natural as I wrote it, and I’ll likely edit. Now you can give Sister Deirdre a break. 🙂
        Many thanks for reading and commenting, Katherine.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My poor Sister Deirdre died of a horrible cancer some years back. I’m glad I don’t need to resort to the dark arts to resurrect her to help out with your poem, as she really wouldn’t have approved. I was brought up Catholic, too. Sister Dee was one of my best school teachers and a fabulous person. She loved to get down and dirty with the most violent imagery Shakespeare could conjure. I just loved her!

        We heard about the horror of those poor babies and the way their mothers were treated, too. It has particular resonance here, as we are still in the middle of a Royal Commission into clerical child abuse in Australia. Thanks for explaining the finish. I get it now.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Skat says:

    Brilliantly conceived and written. This has never been my experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Deep and brilliant! This poem definitely needs to be read more than one time, and I will do it, believe me! Every line is sublime and eloquent and the collage is wonderful! Bravo, Óglach! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  9. An inspired post! Nice collage too.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “and dust will flour the native bones.” my favorite line. and my favorite subject matter, o ominous, impending, inevitable, abominable… doom.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Whaaaat?! BRILLIANT. I love it all; especially the line: The limestone drips with solemn sweat…

    The collage and poem thrill my soul.How did you make the collage?? That’s not just paper and glue, is it?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dead Donovan says:

    I want to be Catholic now. Superb poem and art, Oglach.


    Liked by 3 people

  13. Maybe someday people will figure out how to exorcise the ghoulish machinery evoked so well by the collage and poem from the soaring arches, stained glass, and great settings of the Mass. I hope so.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Powerful words and imagery. I especially liked “shaped in silhouettes of sin”…that’s really a strong one!

    Wonderful collage…would love to see some more… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. poeturja says:

    Wow to the collage and the poem; lots to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. sheldonk2014 says:

    I had to come by
    To see what you were up to
    Fine piece of writing
    Very powerful

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Marvelous…I would love to see your collage full size

    Liked by 2 people

  18. merrildsmith says:

    Very powerful! I like the collage, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Talk about your house of mirrors! Just goes to show you the truth can still raise the tiny hairs on the back of your neck…or is that guilt?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I really like that poem! You have a great ear for the rhythm of the language and it’s dark and Gothic …

    Liked by 1 person

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