In the castle, several years have come
And gone. The music of youth has faded.
The pilgrim has withered, grizzled and
Shrunk in size. The castle is still under
Siege. The barbaric times have evolved.
A fat, balding bland pope has taken office.
Wars are multiplying like furry animals.
The way of silk is being mechanised.
The castle is ageing like a beautiful lass,
The alpine eyes overlooking a river of
Sadness, the limbs slightly sore, slightly
Stiffer, still in need of love and care, but
The hands and loins of lovers are growing
Scarce, and her sweet joyful face is like
An autumn day, undecisive, under attack,
Resolute in the wake of a battle she is
Almost entirely certain that she will lose.
Her resolve was never greater, her hand
Never steadier. Her children flock at her
Feet, still climb her fortress and parapets
In search for protection, blind in the faith
That the future is ever increasing, that
The lessons of Panglossism apply to us,
Confident that immortality is a gift granted.
The pilgrim has long since ceased his
Pilgrimage, and in the midst of all the chaos
He has chosen a career as professional
Religious man, now that faith has left him.
As the barricade of broken, braking ships
Cracks on, as foreign bandits slowly crawl
In at night and build an army of plunderers
Within the city walls, as long as time slows,
The pilgrim keeps the Temple open;
He sweeps the floors, he paints the sun-baked
Walls, he dusts the mouldy paintings.
Panting and coughing as he labours,
The pilgrim thinks of nothing, perhaps
Only about tomorrow’s breakfast. As he
Walks in rounds, left shoulder to the outer
Wall, he wields the temple keys like toys.
He slowly entertains the stair, upwards
Toward the top of the tower: from atop
The belfry he can oversee the entire harbour
In flames, along with his faith, and the faith
Of others, merchants, zealots, junkies
And drug-dealers alike. Atop the deck,
He rolls his beads and mutters nonsense
Under his breath, his mantra has long
Since ceased to mean anything. Presently
A cannonade shakes all and his senses,
The walls of a nearby building take a hit.
As he rejoins the habitual haunters of
The temple hall, he notices a gluttonous
Fat woman filling the offering bowl with
Oil to the brim. The wall painters are busy
Frescoing, he offers them a glass of water.
There is a thick hack of beef sitting on
The altar, an oddity, given the worship
Of the Bull-White Man, the prince of lilies,
And the ancient rites of the double-axe.
The mystical calf has two thick angry horns
And religion is no longer simple, and the
Basilica is on the town square, overlooking
A new marble fountain, a gift from the most
Recent foreign conqueror. A grim decor
Of vaulting, revolting sugary statuines
Whizzing around like candy floss, syrupy
Water spouting softly, like the lies of
Old and new masters, invaders, conquerors,
Warlords local and foreign, all bent on
Securing the future at the expense of the
Present, while the past looks on in horror.
The pilgrim has made it. He has forsaken
The life of spirituality and pseudo Mystic
Falling for the robes and offices of an
Institutionalized Supplicant, where his
Daily routine involves archiving, cleaning
And devolving responsibility to unwitting
Underlings, who are eager to appear busy,
Ever begging the approval of others.
As they live to appear to be serving,
The pilgrim is monk, healer, public servant.
He no longer sees ghosts at night and day,
And his third eye has been sealed shut.
His folly has been contained, and he does
Not listen to God anymore, not anymore
Than to a nagging wife. But in his little
Life, he keeps an extraordinary secret.
In the temple, he guards three doors to
Other dimensions. One leads to a small
Island of Grecian deities, another leads
To a narrow cave where a Nepalese prince
Once hid. The third to a system of tunnels
Under a city famous for tulips, apples,
Snow leopards, mountains, and looking
On the vastness of the murderous steppe.
Many a night the pilgrim steps through
The second door to sit alone in the heat
Of the cave. Interdimensional travel just
Happens, he does not think much of it.
In the cave he listens in to the radio waves
Of his greed, his anger, his resentment
And fear. He now longs for peace, but at
What cost. Ghosts cannot reach him.
In the cave, he does not fear the vampires,
Ghosts, ghouls on the other side, and he
Has long since ceased to dwell on the
Meaning of stories written on paper or
On water. His education ended the minute
He sat in meditation and he saw a black
Circle canceling out the moon. The words
Of libraries failed him, and silence is gone.