He Considers Not the Lilies but Their Excellencies

By Thomas P. Lynch b. 1948
Thin gruel, shallow graves, whiskey watered down,
the ne’er-do-well and good-for-nothing crowd
of cornerboys and gobshites were among
Argyle’s manifold perturbations.
Worse still, the episcopal vexations:
their excellencies, eminence and graces,
red-cassocked dandies and mitered wankers,
the croziered posers in their bishoprics
with their Easter duties and Peter’s pence,
their ledgers full of mortal, venial sins—
keepers of the till and tally, bankers
of indulgences and dispensations;
their bulls and bans and excommunications,
nothing but contumely and bamboozles.
For all their vestiture, rings and unctions,
preaching to bishops, like farting at skunks, was
nothing but a mug’s game to the sin-eater,
so in earshot of them mum is what he kept.
Still, he thought there might be something to it:
a life apart from this life where the souls
long dead and gone were neither dead nor gone.
Some days he felt so happily haunted,
by loving ghosts and gods upholding him.
Some days he felt entirely alone.

Source: Poetry (February 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

February 2011
 Thomas P. Lynch


Essayist, poet, and funeral director Thomas Lynch has written four critically acclaimed volumes of poetry, three award-winning volumes of essays, and a book of short fiction. By using his own daily routine as poetic fodder, Lynch has transformed the mundane task of preparing the dead into a life-affirming event. His lyrical, elegaic poems describe the dead citizens of Milford, Michigan, his own family relationships, and scenes . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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