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Saturday, May 11, 2013

At the Grave of Thomas Merton

By Thom Nickels

Odd to be standing on The Seven Story Mountain,

Here at the Abbey of Gethsemani, 2012,

A simple cross marking you

The June sun framing your hermitage, site of Joan Baez picnic lunches & theologians in slanted berets toasting Vatican II voodoo--

So much has changed since your electrocution in

Bangkok, that religious conference with nuns

In white, your new Zen attitude

Announcing a Coca Cola break

A day when hope seemed limitless---

The marriage of Buddhism & Catholicism, the Oneness of everything

But not the fan that killed you--in an instant hopefully before

They brought you back in a box

So much has changed--- even the nuns, decked out now in stretch pant suits & Macy’s jewelry, some raising a faux chalice to Germaine Greer---

Or the male clergy, caught in the sacristy with Ganymede, being led away in handcuffs. One pope even kissed the Koran & called it holy,

while another abdicated, paving the way for St. Malachy’s Peter the Roman, bishop of the New York Apocalypse, three days of darkness or helter skelter on the streets of

Camden despite whimsical intermissions by the Shake it Up liturgical dancers of LA cathedral fame, the temple  Cardinal Mahony built when he wasn't busy covering up semen spills- Still--- don’t go thinking they’ll make you a saint

Anytime soon---

Too much sex in those journals, Tommy

That Louisville nurse, Maggie,

The one you called late at night when

You thought the other monks asleep,

Sneaking around like Portnoy’s Complaint,

Though the world honored you

“Leave the monastery,” Joan urged, “marry Maggie,”

But how many marriages last, really? Look at Dorothy

Day, her Marxism & one abortion--

No, they won’t canonize you two though how soon they

Forget St. Mary of Egypt, 1st century Lolita girl addicted to

Sex, giving it away, selling it, Can’t get enough—bad girl

Trapped in the shadows of Allen Ginsberg. When she tried to

Enter the church of the Holy Sepulcher an invisible

Shield shut her out —she’d just had sex in a

Jerusalem alley, after all—“I will give it all up if I can enter,” she pleaded & so the NO became YES & paved the way for a lifelong desert retreat of fasting & prayer till she became as the sun baked armadillo--- ugly, transcendent, but saved.