the foundation destroyed, the confounding of the righteous

The boys from the ambulance crew who answered the call

Freely admitted that this one had them a bit spooked.

Oh, not because it had been particularly gruesome;

They’d all seen the aftermath of fires in single-wides

(Like tossin’ a match in an empty tuna can

And closing the lid, according to the deputy chief)

Or the upshot of the annual end-of-school-year drink and drive,

Which left an empty folding chair or two on the floor

Of a sweltering gymnasium.  What got to the volunteer crew

Was the setting and subject in question,

For, sprawled on the pulpit at St. Benedicta’s,

Was the somewhat bent and decidedly bloody wreckage

Of Father Thomas Fiacre Mulligan.  The priest had left a note,

Which was, as best as anyone could tell, written in Latin–

He’d inconveniently bled all over pretty much the entire sheet of paper,

Leaving a host of bloody fingerprints all over his vestments

And the ceremonial chalices to boot–

So parishioner and busybody alike were left to puzzle

As to what drove the cleric to take his own life,

Father Tom being among the most quiet and placid of men,

Although it was noted that his sermons seemed to alternate weekly

Between celebrations of man’s latent divinity and transcendence

And denunciations of his all-too evident brutish and bestial behaviors,

The twain never seeming to meet.  Efforts to locate family–

It was rumored that Mulligan had a sister who, through the effects

Of drugs and general debauchery, had been committed to the bughouse

Down in Ogdensburg– proved fruitless, and in the absence of other kin,

(Although, as Bishop Gantry noted sharply and sourly

As he wafted briefly into town from the diocese offices,

His entire flock were his loved ones) the communicants of the church

Took charge over the Father’s departure from the earthly plane.


The priest was cremated–being a suicide, there was no question

Of burial in consecrated ground–and the pious and simply curious

Gathered at Sisson’s Funeral Home to bid the priest farewell

(Representatives of the diocese being conspicuously absent),

With Mike Sisson–a man who knew a thing or two

About the weight that confession places on a man–

Doing his best to relax the uneasy, comfort the inconsolable,

And generally move things along through employing

The border-collie skills required to succeed in his vocation. 

 Some nights later, as the funeral director shared a few pitchers

With the fire crew at the Wild Oat, he noted

That a representative of the bishop

Had called him to obtain names and addresses from the guest book,

Ostensibly to contact them to gauge interest in leaving the Church

A bequest in the Father’s memory. I told them they could tell His Grace

To go fuck himself, Mike said.  He paused to finish his glass,

Then continued, chuckling softly, while I gather The Bish

Does not sully his hands on such secular matters,

I suspect he got the gist of the statement.


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