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Caroline Bergvall

The Franker Tale (Deus Hic, 2)

You can hear Caroline Bergvall reading this poem at the PennSound site:

Following tweye two breathing crises
and with a tube placidly placed placed
in his esophagus, the papal Pope in Rome
global preacher most powerful suprem
o was not in good form
when the seeds of death’s deeth
one by one finally popped in hym him
irreparably tearing the throat and the skin’s hem.

Back at the Tavern in London
the dear vinolent drunken queer
painter portreytour
knew all along once ones
the hol hole of the hooly blessed
Sire Father’s muth mouth turns
from screm to scream to smear
rising seated darkly in a white frame
of derk purple shoulders drenched
in a shower of gold paint
it would be tyme, it’s time
to deepen the denn, to coarsen the crust
and seek out the companye!

A new ideology of yvele evell
evyl evil manaces society
and it includes gay weddynge jolly marriage
abortion abomination and stem cell studie research
wrote the papal he hey
in his bestselling scriptures book,
Memory and Identity.
The Pope’s noisy mouth had a mutt
and a deceptively brooding chin.
Ones once both saufly safely shut ad eternam
papal knights guards were quickly positioned.
There will be no collective revelrye,
gaiety merrymaking, drynke drinking,
daunce dancing on tabules tables
or shaking one’s booty aboute around
or laying the shrewed cursed poisoned
yifte gift of one’s maladye this sickness our need
at the feet of the lifeless pontiff.
A sea of pilgrims mourn move in sylent silent procession
past the hooly holy cors corpse
careyne carcass arrayed laid-out
prepared solempnely in full ceremony.
But this deethly Death is short-lived.
Soon cries rise from Seint Peter’s square:
The Pope is dead! Long live the Pope’s Rottweiler!

‘Beloved Sisters in the Lord!’

(Letter to Women, 10 July 1995
on the occasion of the 4th World Conference on Women, Beijing)
To grope tendrely a conscience
In shrift; in prechyng is my diligence,
I walk and I walke, I fish and I fisshe
his word is set al myn entente to spread intent.

‘I greet you all most cordially, women throughout the world! What great appreciation must be shown to those women who, with a heroic love for the child they have conceived, proceed with a pregnancy resulting from the injustice of rape. Here we are thinking of atrocities perpetrated not only in situations of war, still so common in the world, but also in societies which are blessed by prosperity and peace and yet are often corrupted by a culture of hedonistic permissiveness. The choice to have an abortion always remains a grave sin’.

The wholly painter staring blankly stands
between two animal carcasses
suspended on hooks
has his photograph taken.
Women of Bosnia! Women of Rwanda! Women of Afghanistan!
Women of Bengal! Kurdish women! Women of Chechnya!
Whan thirty tyrants, ful of cursednesse,
Hadde slayn Phidoun in Atthenes, at feste,
They comanded his daughters for tareste,
And bryngen hem biforn hem in despit,
Al naked, to fulfille hir foul delit, their foul delight.
And in hir fadres blood their father’s blood they made them dance
Upon the pavement, God yeve hem meschaunce!

Women and children of Sudan! Women of Colombia!
Kashmiri women! Punjabi women! Women of France!
Women of Britain! Women of Finland! Women of America!
They of Mecene leete enquere and seke
Of Lacedomye fifty maidens eke,
On whiche they wolden doon hir lecherye;
And foul delight.
Susters and nieces! Mothers aunts and doghters!
Deus Hic! God is drunk!

At these wordes words heven rose glood
the deepest soun son sound
a song sangen entuned intoned
a dense clamour clamor cries out
Love is leaving! the Earth quakes quaketh
shakes under their feet!
some sort of deep tabour of drum or drone.
My tale is almost doon.
Some sawe some saying goes
some seyn some say
they say they saw des foules de crowds
en sang bleeding incensed, suster, the sky
is dreaming drumming up
red clouds of red blod
an occean of blood ocean.
Amongst them they say they saw
the joly Painter departed
swymmes floating, and all the time farting
in the hoote hot somer summer heat heete
with the glee of an Ashbery John.
Othere say that it was the old Papa’s
body finally flying free quite
quit of its distasteful containee.
Here endeth the Franker Tale.

The first part of this poem appears in Jacket 31