Daniel Partlow (1969 / St. Louis, MO > Westport, CT)
A Question for Caiaphas Pickler (Damian Hirst)
A Letter to Caiaphas Pickler
Mr. Caiaphas Pickler (also known as Damien Hirst) ,
Your gem encrusted ephod betrays your office as the First
High Priest of Death, Eighty Six-ing the dry bones of man
But, you cannot breathe life into them with your formaldehyde can.
Even your vain symbol – the requin predator of the seas
Could not help but rot. Now you may think you hold the keys,
But God shows His power – even through the works of you the Deceiver
His Sense of Irony has been shown through you and this Christian Believer.
Caiaphas proudly thought that he had engineered the crucifixion of the Christ.
But it was only through the work of the unseen Father that he had been enticed
Into fulfilling the purpose of the Son of Man – Yes, he thought he was the Boss
But in his own mouth, God voiced the prophecy of the power of the Cross.
“Ye know nothing at all, you do not consider. Is it not expedient for us?
That one man should die for all the people, for to save the whole nation thus.”
Neither he nor you bear the anointing of Levi but of the Procurator Gratus
Corruption, Deception, and Violence-Gratis
The chief priests and elders assemble in your palace
To revel at the ossuaries of your Sadduceen malice
Outwardly gleaming white: the clean lines of the post-modern-contemporary
But inwardly filled with death and unclean doctrine which seeks to soil or burry
The Truth, the Word, the message of the Gospel’s good news.
Pretending that the drugs and toxins which man doth abuse
Hold the key to his eternal salvation
You play fast and loose with your eternal damnation.
But after all – that’s the nature of your game
That’s your mission and your power, the reason for your fame.
Your work mocks and eschews the use of His gift: The Word.
And in His symbol of the Holy Paraclete, you see only a dead bird.
You worship your beefy angel with his dead and powdered bones.
Sing praises to your father with the great noise of chaos-static and human groans
“I don't mind, if it falls over and the glass breaks” No loss could make you weep:
“If the sheep falls out you can always get a new sheep”
But the Good Shepherd goes to search out and save every single lamb.
He does not abandon them to the seductive secular sham
For, it is only His blood which preserves life, not your saline drips
These are the confessions which have passed across you lips:
You have said that you think you are 'a hardcore atheist.'
And your mignon-minions feed upon the head of your fly-apiarist
“I’m trying to be a hardcore atheist, and then I keep making work like this.”
And so you have lied to your disciples: ‘suicide is perfect bliss’.
Well Bravo, At least Caiaphas has become aware of the irony of his corrupted blend.
Now, it was a year before the exhibition of your pedagogy that “The Flocks” was penned.
I am asking you directly whether you were aware of this work
Or whether you were unwittingly bearing witness to who you are with a smug smirk.
Now it is clear from your school house work Mr. Damien Hirst
That your life (that you both live and espouse) represents an unquenched thirst.
Read ‘The Flock’s have Left the Fold (2006) ’ sir, if you have not already.
We may be interpreting the same thing, with the same imagery, the parallels are heady.
Some observations about society may even be consistent in these messages shrill.
But they are incompatible if your curator represents you in suggesting eternal salvation is found in a pill.
Like you, Caiaphas the High Priest Sadducee rejected true life to infinity
But God made him an unwilling pawn in the affirmation of the trinity.
But you know where to turn – for He will, if you ask, give you the true living water.
And even you sir, can be saved from the upcoming slaughter.
Not through the righteous but vain acts of crimson generosity.
For scarlet sin still coats the Paintbrush of every gross artistic atrocity.
But only through repentance and humble acceptance of Christ’s gift.
Can you ever hope to cross the chasm and heal your heart’s rift.
I think perhaps you’ve had a glimpse of eternity, but your art has taken you only to the edge of the abyss.
Without grabbing the hand of the Lord, your heart and mind will forever be amiss.
If I am wrong about your thirsting, and you are simply full of your formaldehyde, then I truly pity you
Because true satisfaction will ever elude he who proudly pretends atheism true.
In your blackboard I have seen the frog-eye patch, but also a longing for the infinite.
Here are other poet’s descriptions of a better longing which comes with confidence in the infinite.
“Seated one day at the organ, I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly over the noisy keys;
I know not what I was playing or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music, like the sound of a great Amen,
It flooded the crimson twilight, like the close of an Angel's Psalm,
And it lay on my fever'd spirit, with a touch of infinite calm,
It quieted pain and sorrow, like love overcoming strife,
It seem'd the harmonious echo from our discordant life.
It link'd all perplexed meanings, into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence, as if it were loth to cease;
I have sought but I seek it vainly, that one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ, and enter'd into mine.
It may be that Death's bright Angel, will speak in that chord again;
It may be that only in Heav'n, I shall hear that grand Amen.”
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we’d first begun.”
I asterix the passages from The Flocks Have Left the Fold which you have incorporated in your School…
The Flocks Have Left the Fold
The flower of the thorny roses dead, calls, forestalls the *loss of their head
Entering the bed, the deuce covers *lost alba hue with *paint of red…
The fields of wheat are filled with weeds; some *fig trees have stopped fruiting
The time of beast and serpent nears, they plot the vineyard vines *uprooting.
Following the serpents siren song, the *flocks have left the fold
The proud have wandered away from their shepherd of old.
Prowling and coordinating the foretold plan, the beast
Enlists the ranks of predators into the brotherhood of serpentine false priest
Leviathan lies in wait beneath the marshy fen
And signals fellow minions to prepare to begin.
Though the fisherman's schools of fish are teaming
The requin shiver circles, the *crafty sharks are scheming.
The *sheep are all *divided many driven to distraction
The weak have followed the proud out of simple interest or attraction
In rites of bleating howls, the pack promises the sheep a lupine fleece to try-on
And some wander off entranced by the gentle purring of the lion
The raven deals with them to sell their *pure white wool.
For the price of initiation into the party of *boasting bull.
They receive on their *foreheads and bodies the blood-letting leeches
For the serpent *demands their blood: one of the many heresies he teaches.
The shepherd calls each one back to the fold by name
He sends his helpers out to warn them of their foolish game.
The razorbacks and wild dogs sense opportunities for gluttonous gouts of blood.
And help the proud sheep to entice their brothers away from meadows into bogs of mud.
The proud ones tell the others that the shepherd was a myth
Frolicking with the leopards is liberating - run to them forthwith.
The lion invites the sheep to observe the land from his perch in the trees
In giddy thrill, they ignore the helpers' warnings, calls, and pleas.
Let the condors lift to new heights, and teach flight to our little lambs
Predation is a fairy tale; the old limitations and doctrines are only shams
Just look at the awesome strength of our new friend tiger.
Let us emulate the lion dam and give him offspring like the liger.
Our 'shigers' will be big and strong, clearly superior
Be brave and leave turf-eaters behind to old-fashioned ways inferior
In fact, who needs them any way? They only hold us back.
Let us instead learn the ways of wolf so we can run freely with the pack.
If the coyote has so many clever wiles
Let us learn his wisdom and his ways, all his genius guiles.
Oh, the time has come, curious oyster friends to speak of other things
The walrus begins his smoke screen bluster about cabbages and kings.
The Frog-Eye Patch burns the green grass with its *pattern of sixes
Fungus catches in the proud sheep’s *throats and eventually asphixes.
Familial hives of bees collapse because of homogeneity, varoa, and mites.
And the unpollinated blossoms dropp and wither from the *droughts and blights.
Some queer self-mutating crops have been sown in some of the farmer’s fields
Which repel the remaining good pollinators and produce unfruitful yields.
The rows are then attacked by flies, robigus, galls and canker.
Spreading their lies, hatred, apostasy and rancor.
The blades of wheat are attacked by a sickening *black stem rust.
Converting good nutrients into vomit-toxin, *mold, and must.
Fusarium, hessians, long-horned beetles, scorch, and scabby ghosts
Stage their attack on the figs from the barbarous barberry bushes and other evil hosts.
The biting flies goad the sheep to fight with each other.
That they may feed upon the *carrion of the weaker brother.
The fish in streams and seas though belonging to the fisher
Are stolen one by one in beastly deed which evil times doth usher.
'Come to me little fishes' calls the crafty bear.
Fly up from your stream beds taste the freedoms of the air.
Go with the flow little fishes calls the Dead sea of blood and *salt.
Forget the rumors heard of how your heart and gills will halt.
Innocuously swims up the aqueous serpent, preparing his venom rank
We're in this stream *bed together – but I can teach you to crawl upon the eastern bank.
The crocs circle round, overhearing the trap the snake has planned,
And call the sheep for a swimming lesson, 'come down to the *banks of sand'
The hyena laughs at the shepherd's doctrine: a call to repent.
And offers what he says the shepherd *really meant.
The coyote shrieks in the piteous pitch of yin.
With feigned wound and false pride, more sheep are taken-in.
The false prophecy of boa winds itself among its prey.
Binding them in sin for constriction on the beastly day.
Oh the ostriches, wildcats and owls, prepare for the satyr’s fest.
The desert beast and jackal in *palaces howl; the gazelles are hunted without rest.
Proud sheep denigrate ‘ditzy’ lady ewes and the 'insensitive' male rams
Creating *divisions and suffering among families and *offending the little lambs.
The zeitgeist of the time causes a brooding robin great despair.
And in faithless confusion she is caught in the *trapper’s snare.
Her abandoned hatchlings are flushed and caught by the hounds
The nest eggs are stolen by the adder – his dislocated jaw surrounds.
Disrespect and apathy are sown into the fields yielding briars and crabby-grass.
Viruses and killing spores are prepared for the anti-sacramental *black mass.
The scorpion brews his lethal *narco-stings
And tells the lambs of the wondrous feelings that it brings
The baboon *plies the lambs with his inebriating weed and *water
To numb and stupefy them for the upcoming *slaughter
The vulture circles above the *desert sands.
Awaiting the hour when *death descends upon the wayward lambs.
Impersonating the shepherd, but blaspheming his Word.
The predators close in to gorge upon the adepts of the *fallen herd.
Though *the smoke from Leviathan, the faithful sheep, it cannot smother.
It attempts, as apiarist, containment and apathy, preventing the rescue of their brother.
Cobra too *menaces faithful sheep, spewing venom through its headline fangs.
To deter them all from rescuing the lost from the clutches of the gangs.
*Cowed into helpless sedation, so many submit in ignorance or fear
Until, 'I give you not a spirit of timidity, but that of strength, ' His voice rings in their ear.
Under the protection of *shepherd's crook they march out bleating loud.
Calling all their family home before terrible fate is meted to the proud.
The helpers stand ready to free them from their mess.
When sheep look up to the shepherd and faithfully confess.
The helpers bleat for reason as the proud vainly bruises udders.
But with ears so full of lies some ignore the truth as merely *mutton mutters.
The good reapers work the fields to gather all the grain into the garner
Before the tares and chaff are burnt up, the shepherd sends out the final gleaning-warner.
All *faithful sheep and those repentant, behind the shepherd's gate
Saved from the ferule eels, all the schools within good fisher's net, the final catch is great.
Even some of the predator cubs reject their parent’s deceptive fables.
They forswear the *bullock’s blood eating just the scraps from the Shepherd’s table.
An *axe is laid at the root of the trees and each which brought forth not,
Yielded not good fruit, shall be hewn down, and cast into the fires hot.
Oh barren trees whose branches stretched out and blocked the light of the sun.
You drank up the waters of the earth and now thy time is nearly done.
The wind blows the chaff and tumbleweed before the storm and all hear their cries
The reeds and bulrushes fail when their stream recedes and dries.
In blasts of steam and *ash Leviathan begins to swell.
Withering the *unfruited boughs, he opens wide the mouth of hell.
The sheep gathered on his back feel a *rumbling thrill fantastic,
Uncertainty, then *terror… then *incineration in blasts black and pyroclastic
The *noxious fumes choke all in its wide and billowing path.
Save those protected by the shepherd, they feel their father's wrath.
Profaning the shepherd of the heavens, the *volcanic eruption peaks
Amid Hyena Laughs, Leopard Growls, Gorilla Hoots, Baboon Howls, and Coyote Shrieks,
All hell breaks loose, so many proud sheep are lost to the jackal
The boa cinches tight the noose, the fires rain and crackle.
The skies *blackened with soot, the locusts armed to teeth descend
Upon all the painted roses and corrupted vegetation on which wicked faithless sheep depend.
The black panthers under cover of the darkness prowl
Savaging, ravaging, the victims bemoan their fate and howl.
The tempest rages and many are destroyed by the wave and gale of hurricane.
Save those who trusted on the shepherd who long ago wailed in the ultimate of pain.
But now these *biting axes which held themselves above the lumberjack.
Are themselves thrown upon the ignited kindling stack.
The *saws and smiting rods are all forever broken.
When the apocalyptic word of fury is finally spoken.
The tyrants are thrown down to nether at the end of their term:
Their couch is the maggot and their blanket is the worm.
Sound the knell, true peace and the kingdom has finally come
Ring the bell, Alleluia and Hosanna: Let the angel’s harps be strum.
The skies are cleared - free forever from predator’s weapon stings.
Free at last - praise Immanuel – every voice together sings.
The pacific cubs then lie down with the good lambs and flocks
The new lion, bear, leopard, and wolf all eat the ample grass like the ox.
A river flows forth from the Shepherd and His new city is founded
In which the trumpets of peace shall be forever sounded.
A new Earth where forever Truth and the Shepherd reigns.
The deceivers and deceived all cast out: bearing their *perpetual chains.
So in the end, all the proud are lost to the pride,
For the pride devours those who can't admit that their serpent master lied.
So listen to this dormouse, and heed what the prophets have said.
*Keep your head. Indeed. Keep fresh your faith and heart and head.
A Letter to Caiaphas Paintbrush – Copyright © D. Partlow 2008
The Flocks Have Left the Fold – Copyright © D. Partlow 2006
Comments about this poem (A Question for Caiaphas Pickler (Damian Hirst) by Daniel Partlow )
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