David McLansky

Veteran Poet - 1,578 Points (5/24/1944 / New York City)

The Pilgrim Road 21 & 22 & 23 & 24 - Poem by David McLansky

The Priest Before the Altar (21)

The Priest stood solemn and long did linger

At the reliquary of St. Boniface's finger, 

Encased in silver and in gold, 

Concealed behind a curtain fold; 

He crossed himself before the altar, 

And opened up his ancient Psalter, 

And reading it, intoned a hymn, 

He sang the verses of Te Deum; 

Long ago he had lost his Latin, 

A subject of dissatisfaction, 

And though he no longer knew its meaning, 

He sang the verses with wondrous feeling; 

High above him, upon His Rood

Stood a statue of painted wood, 

The writhing statue of Jesus Christ, 

As He paid His mortal price; 

'God give me strength, by these gray hairs, 

To perform my office without despair, 

Give me the wisdom of Winfrid, 

That I not be into Evil led; 

May I be tireless as he in tasks, 

May I be loyal to all You ask, 

In the name of Christ and Church Holy Mother, 

There is not one without the other.'

Ann's Tale (22)

Sister Ruth slipped out of doors

When she had finished her kitchen chores, 

To the chickens she fed bread crumbs, 

Until the barn door she had come; 

There she espied her old friend Ann

Eating oat cakes from a dented pan; 

She signaled her to come outside

Where the two might safely hide, 

To hear the tale of her life story

And relieve her of her current worry; 

They sat inside the old goat pen, 

Sister Ruth and her old friend; 

Ann sat across from Sister Ruth

And saw her face still bloomed with youth; 

It was as if the goodness of her life

Had protected her from lines of strife; 

For in her smile her goodness showed, 

And in her cheeks her sweetness glowed; 

Her teeth were even and pearly white, 

While Ann's few teeth were black as night; 

'I'm sorry that we never said goodbye, 

After you left, I cried and cried; 

Oh Ann, I see life's been hard on you; 

What trials has God put you through? '

Ann's Tale (Cont'd) (22)

That pitch black morning so long ago

As I sat carted, jostled slow, 

I thanked Our Lord for my new life, 

I watched the Convent slip from sight; 

But the Mummer Chieftain was a knave, 

He treated me just like a slave, 

I was his mule, his wife, his chore, 

I knew little then what lay in store; 

We moved around from town to town, 

He juggled and he played the clown, 

To prove my worth I was passed around, 

One night they raped me on the ground; 

I was starved and I was beaten, 

They fed me after they had eaten; 

Dried turnips and boiled cabbage cores, 

I was knocked about and beaten sore; 

In one thing was my saving grace, 

My baby's smile, his little face; 

They swore that they would kill him sure

If I didn't smile and act the whore; 

Finally, in a great big city, 

I found a Priest who showed me pity, 

He agreed to find for him a home; 

It broke my heart to leave him alone; 

But what else then could I do? 

They were a wild and ruthless crew; 

I saw them murder, rob, and steal, 

They honed their knives on Satan's wheel; 

I told them that the babe had died, 

They didn't care that I had lied; 

They were tired of his yelps and his cries, 

They'd have slit his throat by Eastertide; 

I moved with them from town to town, 

In every town I looked around; 

For a face that showed some kindness; 

I settled on one that looked mindless; 

He wanted a woman to work his farm; 

He agreed to keep me safe from harm; 

He bought me from the band of thieves; 

I watched them leave with sore relieved; 

Their wagons jostled down the road, 

I turned to look at my new abode; 

It was a hut, a thatched roof shack, 

Turned from the road, I did not look back; 

I lived the scorn of his family, 

I was a slave, that's how they used me; 

I worked from early, early morn, 

I was their ox, their sheep unshorn; 

At last the old man up and died, 

But then I found that I was tied, 

To the land the old man owned; 

The son worked me to the bone; 

One day I upped and walked away; 

How long I walked I couldn't say; 

I walked through village, town, and city; 

Glad I was no longer pretty; 

There were years of filth and sweat and grime, 

Muddy huts and low-life crime; 

Once I was whipped at a market fair

For stealing an apple they couldn't spare; 

The years rolled on and on and on, 

I worked and begged from farm to farm, 

One day I joined this Pilgrim's group, 

My bones are old, my back is stooped; 

And here we are chatting again, 

How long its been I can't say when, 

Twenty summers have scorched my face, 

Twenty winters have gouged their trace; 

I look at you and see my folly; 

You look as when we played with dollies; 

You'll laugh to hear that I met D'Artagnan, 

My faithless lover, my soul's companion; 

A soldier who had lost his legs, 

Set out on the road to beg; 

I was sore determined to pass him by, 

But as I passed I began to cry; 

He said he didn't remember me, 

He had lost both legs below the knee: 

I had him join our Pilgrim band; 

Still he claims he was not the man; 

But when I washed his old torn clothes, 

I found his clan sewn in his hose.'

Dark Justice (23)

They come within the mask of night

To maximize the sense of fright, 

To hide the face of what they've done, 

To terrorize, conceal, and stun; 

The child was taken while asleep, 

The parents told not to speak, 

Bundled off within the dark

Before the query of the lark

Their little act a fait accompli 

You must be tried to be set free..

Sister Mary Ruth's Morning Prayer 

'Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, 

Protect me from this sleeping child

Who lies suspected in my bed

Of witchcraft, being Satan bred; 

God protect me from her Black Arts, 

Bind not my hair with Astaroth's, 

Let not his demons seize my Soul

And cast me down to dark Sheol; 

Let not Aamon bite beneath my skin, 

Pollute not my flesh with lust and sin; 

Bar Pruslas from my tiny cell, 

Let innocence and love here dwell; 

If Barbatos infects her tongue, 

Let in the night no demon come

To confuse my dreams and turn me wild

To turn my head and so beguile

That I like a Viking I wanton sack

In the name of Rashaverak; 

Gentle Jesus, this is my prayer, 

If she's the Devil, my Soul be spared.'

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Poem Submitted: Friday, December 28, 2012

Poem Edited: Friday, December 28, 2012

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