Evil Couplings


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MEN Arena.jpg

(Manchester Arena: Image by Pitt-yacker at



In Hope Street they manufacture nuts, bolts…

The company is even called ‘Nail It.

(Man United usually does just that.)

Salford, Manchester, Blackburn, Ormskirk,

Rochdale, Preston – all ‘nuts and bolts‘ places.

Their people are frank and they don’t quibble

over distinctions between flange and jam.

They vote ‘righty-tighty; lefty loosey.

At weddings there’s no ‘dockyard confetti

and shrapnel is small change in a pocket.

They know their hardware inside out and don’t

excuse idiots who have a screw loose.

They expect ‘Salman’ to mean a ‘blessing’:

that’s what the etymology suggests.

But they can differentiate as well –

Dangerous Woman‘ is just a concert

and not a female suicide bomber.

When someone with internal fixation

and tensioned beyond proof starts to behave

in a counterclockwise manner, they know

that it’s not about connection, coupling,


But they had no time to crack

a nut who suddenly raised his own head;

someone whose helical rage respected

no one else’s DNA – who spiralled –

blasted into Jahannam’s lowest pit,

not in a blaze of glory, but in shards

of eye, shoulder, thumb, rib neck and hex bolts.

Human being‘ needs a modifier.

We need to qualify with retronyms:

compassionate‘, ‘decent‘ or ‘evil,’

for we no longer know what is ‘human‘-

neither do straight-forward Mancunians.

Yet their gimlet eyes saw glimmers of it

in the selflessness of those who helped them.

Visio Monachi de Eynsham c 1196 CE (revised) or The Vision of Edmund, the monk of Eynsham.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vision of Edmund of Eynsham





Adam – now there’s a fine symbolic name

for a Sub-Abbot, but it is not he

of whom we wish to write.  No, the fame

belongs entirely to his brother: Edmund.  He

is the one whose ‘deathbed’ revelation

showed him Paradise and Purgatory.

Taken by the hand of St Nicholas,

he saw the penalties of Vanitas.



We are in twelfth century Oxfordshire,

but the application is for us too,

though believers in Rapture are fewer.

Nowadays it would be put down to ‘flu,

a fever, or hallucinatory drug.

Out-of-body experiences – who

would credit them with the spiritual?

Movements like Charismatic Renewal?



Imbibing only some tepid water,

for fifteen months, Edmund lay, very weak;

his quinsy made him hotter and hotter.

As Easter approached, he commenced to speak

and, with the help of a supporting stick,

he wanted to celebrate Holy Week

in the monastery chapel.  Brothers

claimed he remained longer than the others.



From midnight until noon on the next day,

he confessed all his sins and lamented.

The following night, he began to pray

and lay on the ground, as if demented.

Adam had cold water splashed over him.

He thought Edmund had simply invented

this behaviour to gain some attention –

thus he wanted to defuse the tension.



How Edmund arrived there, without some aid,

was a point to be considered (but post-

Good Friday.)  Yes, though fresh blood was displayed

on the cross, the monks felt the Holy Ghost

was not behind Edmund’s troubling conduct.

Maybe he wanted discipline, to boast,

boost spiritual pride.  He’d asked for penance,

but was too weak for simple observance.



Through Good Friday evening, the next day,

water dribbled from his lips, till sunset.

They thought he was returning to the clay,

for he made no response and didn’t fret

when pricked.  They blew a horn in his ear,

but he did not stir – at least, not yet –

till Compline, when his eyes opened.  He sighed

and ‘Sancta Maria‘ many times cried.



He had begged for corporal punishment

and he kept on sobbing into his hands,

while compelling everyone to repent.

One of his more unusual demands

was to have a silver cross brought to him.

No one to this day really understands

why he was agitated; in this state:

raving like some kind of inebriate.



On Saturday evening, he ate some bread.

Miraculously, he went, unaided,

to Matins, where he bowed his tonsured head

and the cross and relics venerated.

The Prior and Sub-Prior heard him confess,

till no omission had been evaded

and he received the Sacrament as well,

to the ring of the credence Sanctus bell.



He then shared his dream, which began in Lent:

how a man had stood beside him, who said

that the prayers of a Godstow postulant

should join with his and be intermingled.

Then, roused to consciousness, he kissed the cross,

penitent for time he had spent in bed.

Entering the chapel of St Lawrence

and All Martyrs, he bowed in obesiance.



He begged Adam for further punishment

and bathed his eyes in blood and swallowed it.

He was birched further and did not give vent

to spleen; nor did he ask for a remit.

Adam denied the Benedictine Rule

condoned this practice.  He felt its ambit

was for daylight hours, but, apparently,

St Nicholas had amended the decree.



Edmund saw souls flogged and bound together,

but they still had a hope of salvation.

You could have knocked him down with a feather

when he saw, in the throes of purgation,

(previous Abbot) Geoffrey of Eynsham,

negligent in his organisation,

though he’d been in charge for forty four years,

now past nepotism induced his tears.



The Bishop of Salisbury – Joscelin –

committed sexual immorality

and, as for the dire dealings of Baldwin,

he had tinkered with criminality:

unwise Archbishop of Canterbury.

(Most preferred Saladin’s mentality.)

Much given to Chapter disputation,

Baldwin funded Crusades through taxation.



In the next place to which Edmund was led,

he smelled a vile pond and climbed a steep hill:

souls were burned on one side and they perished

with cold conversely.  A rotating grill

principle moved them from one location

to the other, like ants from an anthill.

To see a goldsmith from Osney- a drunk-

being purged here did not surprise the monk.



The third realm was a place of snakes, devils –

reserved for the homosexual.

A lawyer was suffering for evils

and monks too were punished by gradual

degrees.  Unchaste churchmen who had blasphemed

(so nothing much there far from the usual)

by dispensing holy things with foul hand,

epitomising the wrongs in England.


Those who had been successful in the world

endured more than those of a low degree.

Regions of Paradise were then unfurled

to Nicholas, Edmund: a panoply

of Blessed Souls, who approached a huge gate

set in a wall of crystal – so shiny

that, blinded, he scarcely saw the entrance

of those receiving their inheritance.


Edmund then saw Jesus Christ on a throne,

but, at this point, his guide made him return

and yet he sensed that there were those who’d flown

to higher realms and who with joy would burn.

They exuded Light Inaccessible,

but he was not yet ready to discern

the joys of one who finished his course –

his sanctification was yet perforce.


This vision showed him a chain of being,

linking angels and the perfected souls,

descending from God, who is all-seeing,

to those who’ve just embraced heavenly goals.

Necessary purging of perception

allots individuals specific roles.

Adam wrote this down for our perfection:

Verify your calling and election.


The Sub-organist’s Inamorata is Unimpressed by his Instrument


, , , , , , , , , ,

Master Crotch Playing the Organ, aged 3.


Not for the prudish…

I saw the magnificent organ in St John’s College Chapel

yesterday and it reminded me that this piece was languishing

in a file somewhere…


He invited her to see his action,

presuming that hers would be pneumatic.

He hoped that his extemporisation

would be salicional. He would show her

his tuba mirabilis and swell box.

In exchange she might reveal her feeders.

Tremulant, he tried to think positif.

She might well console him voluntary,

should she have the temperament, Hautboy!

She might indulge his need for flageolet.

“O, dolce Clarabella, in the loft

I will double-touch you in a plein jeu.

Your voix celeste is moving my couplers.”

He pulled out all his stops, the flute d’amour,

but she replied, “You are no Wurlitzer.

Put away that pallet and furniture.

You are less mature than the Infant Crotch.*

and ignorant of the Fundamentals.

I’m virginal but too clavier for you.

Pipe down and stick to your kist o’ whistles.

I never go for the organ-grinder;

I’m more interested in the monkey.”




*Child prodigy on the organ.

St Frideswide


, , , , , , , ,

(I use the Medieval pronunciation- something like ‘Fridesweedah’)


(window by Burne-Jones- Christ Church, Oxford)



After her mother’s death, she, with Aelfgith

(a holy woman) lodged.  Then to Oxford,

to ask her father to build her, forthwith,

a church and convent, where she could board

with twelve other women and take the veil,

in seclusion, and do works of charity.

Her beauty would always attract a male.

Prince Aelfgar would see no disparity

in seeking to attain, through compulsion.

one who was devoted to freely love

all, but who would simply feel revulsion

at sabotage of her call from above.

Discovering his scheme, she fled to a hut,

which sheltered swine, who foraged in the wood.

With well water, she survived three years, but

Aelfgar, furious at her hardihood,

was determined to sustain his assault.

When she returned to Oxford, he made threats

that he would torch the town – all for her ‘fault’ –

and have her ravished by his own subjects.

Frideswide prayed to St Catherine,

to Cecilia, for preservation.

Immediately, the prince was supine:

struck blind, in response to invocation.

English kings feared to enter, from then on,

the city, lest they a similar fate

would be dispensed- the same phenomenon

assail them, if they tried to storm the gate.

The nunnery then received the princess

and she established a seat of learning,

treating loathsome lepers with a largesse

beyond the call of duty, meriting

sainthood; eventual burial, where now

Christ Church Cathedral stands.  Pilgrims flock still

to honour the abbess, whose sacred vow

identified her union with God’s will.


(As for Prince Aelfgar, she restored his sight

and, at her well, a toad would often spit

at a base suitor, whose credentials might

not meet his intended’s family’s ambit.

The nineteenth of October- her Feast Day-

is thought to be the date she passed away.)







Samson: a Ballad


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Samson Fighting the Lion: Lucas Cranach

the Elder ; Weimarer Stadtschloss;

Accession No G12)


Manoah wept: he had no son.

An angel told his wife:

You will conceive a son and give

him up to God for life.


This angel came again and he

had piercing azure eyes.

Manoah, liking what he said,

offered to sacrifice


a kid to God and, in the smoke,

the spirit heavenwards

ascended, while the man and wife

pondered on his words.


Samson grew in stature tall;

a razor did not trim

his hair, as he was set aside:

the role of Judge, for him.


A daughter of his enemies

came to his notice, so,

in spite of what his father said,

to Timnath he would go.


Meeting a lion would not prevent

his marriage to a stranger.

He tore the animal apart

(its threat to him no danger.)


And, when he passed the carcase next,

bees had filled its middle.

Scooping out honey, he laughed aloud:

Aha!  I have a riddle!


Thirty young men attended the feast.

What is strong, but also sweet?

He bet they’d never work it out,

but Samson’s wife was not discreet.


The answer, pressured out of her,

Samson lost the forfeit,

but he went down to Ashkelon

and found a way to cheat:


he offered the thirty all the fruits

he’d pillaged, far and wide.

Father-in-law was unimpressed

and gave away the bride.


Please let me sleep with her, Sam cried,

but ‘father-in-law’ rejected

his overtures and offered up

someone unexpected.


Raging, Samson stormed to the fields,

fiery foxes tying

by their tails, igniting corn,

until the crops were dying.


The Philistines burned Samson’s ‘wife’

in retaliation.

He took the jawbone of an ass;

displayed his indignation.


Twenty years passed and he

the role of Judge enacted,

but, like a moth to candle flames,

was fatally attracted


to a harlot (spied upon) –

a honey trap, or bait.

Gazites lay in wait for him.

He made off with the gate


and posts, which held the city wall.

He carried them to Hebron.

Enough of whores: he fell in love,

exhibiting his brawn,


but not his brain.  Delilah (bribed)

to find his secret strength,

determined, showing greed and pique,

to go to any length


until he was unwise and told

how he eschewed a razor.

And, when his hair was shorn away,

his weakness did amaze her.


The Spirit of the Lord had left

and Samson, unaware,

had eyes gouged out; was bound with chains

now that he’d lost his hair.


A trophy, he would grind the corn,

till Dagon’s feast came round

and then, for sport, they hauled him out-

still bloodied, beaten, bound.


Two pillars served as a support,

to lean against the stone,

but hair had grown; his strength returned –

he gave a mighty groan.


O let me die with Philistines,

he prayed.  Thy will be done.

He brought the house down literally

and killed them – every one.


They buried him beside Manoah.

A Deliverer he’d become,

achieving more in death than life,

foreshadowing God’s son.