Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0013 Sainthood Via Automated Complaints - Poem by Michael Shepherd

Living saints seem to be an endangered species
though nobody complains

so how about the ‘sustainable’ bit?
How To Be a Saint isn’t yet in that
expanding Idiot’s Guide series


there is a Path, a Way
right at the tips of your fingers
though have your blood pressure
checked first

automated complaints

and I’m sure I don’t need
to spell that out for you

the one that you can’t even get through to make;
the options that don’t include yours;
the hanging on, because
we value your call;
the background music
like that loop from
Mendelsohn’s violin concerto
like a continuously thwarted orgasm
without a climax

so here’s the perfect practice

run through a checklist
of the required virtues;
western religions tend to run to
quite a few; but Indians
love enumeration – they’ve been at it
for thousands of years; and now
they’re Call Centre International
it could be a growth industry

I’ve got a fine list here from the Jains
which is especially practical
since they don’t require subscribing
to a specific image of the god
who’s running all this, remember:

you could take one virtue a day to practice
or just have the checklist there beside
the telephone – I guess
if this catches on, there’ll be
an illustrated poster to hang there
in exquisite medieval illumination

so for when you get through to a human being,
or better, while you’re waiting,
here’s the first nine of the ten:

restraint from anger, abuse, etc;
penance; (you could settle there for patience..)
indifference to any kind of gain or loss;
cleanliness of soul, mind, body;

I guess by now you’re
either laughing or crying;
both have their uses
on the way to sainthood;

oh yes, the tenth,
supreme sex-control;
not sure if that applies, apart from monks etc.,
but it might somehow

anyway, there’s nine
for you to practice on meanwhile;
I don’t need to advise you on
which institutions will help you most by their hindrance;
you already have that list?
if not, press…

Comments about 0013 Sainthood Via Automated Complaints by Michael Shepherd

  • (12/12/2006 11:20:00 AM)

    Michael, the fact that you can still see the potential for a giggle in this speaks volumes for your bottomless sense of humour. Sharp and witty as always. Thanks for the laugh. jim (Report)Reply

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  • (12/12/2006 6:51:00 AM)

    Danny, you're a saint! Cheating the full course, but helpful.. (Report)Reply

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  • (12/12/2006 6:30:00 AM)

    Always press the option to make an order, which will be answered immediately by a real person. Once there, inform them of the complaint and they are obliged to forward your call to another real person to deal with. These procedures were put in place by Saint Oozass Niki B'stard.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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