I was talking with my friend Margaret this past weekend (near the end of a fabulous poetry extravaganza of a weekend) about how as a child who was raised Catholic and attended CCD in a small building adjacent to the church with an itty bitty religious library in the midst of that space, I once stole a book about saints and brought it home and read and re-read the stories about how different female saints were tortured to death.
Dare I say that I sort of got off on reading about how repeated torture was what turned you into a saint? Of course I’ll say it; heck it fits its way into quite a few poems of mine, especially older work, frothing and hissing like serpentine snake girls wanting to bite back against misgivings that were forcefully infiltrated upon me by parts of being raised Catholic. Me and my dominant submissive blood baths of gross mean poetry fused with gory torture scenes.
Now that I’ve grown beyond my anti-Catholic/Catholic based S/M experimentation fusion mix days AND my strongly atheist viewpoints and towards more open, agnostic/poetic perspectives, I no longer feel such a need to lash out at Catholicism as I did in some of my older poems (anyone who has read my HORRIFIC CONFECTION book can partake of what I’m referring to in a poem like ‘The Angel of Death’ – try being enmeshed in traditional Catholicism and thus being given the impression that sexual desires are supposed to be kept private and sex should only be used in accordance with love and baby making and then who are you supposed to talk to about it when you decide to get an abortion? You have oodles of poetry to talk it out upon).
These days, I’m certainly not anti-Catholic or anti any kind of religious or spiritual beliefs or lifestyle choices, with one primary exception. I’m anti those who try to force their beliefs upon others, as if their way of life is the only right way - as though anything in this world has some easy sort of right & wrong or black & white. Nothing does. There are so many different beautiful colors and interesting amalgamations and worthwhile hybrid hues.
For years, when I was younger, I had a lot of spewing and then revising it into poetry, in order to step away from feeling judged and express MYSELF. Expressing myself is still very important to me, but these days I don’t feel as compelled to spew my point of view against certain old-school religious viewpoints.
But due to my conversation with Margaret, I did feel compelled to pull forth an older poem of mine that includes a few snippets based on/inspired by that stolen female saint torture book. By the way, Saint Lucy is still one of my favorite saints, with her ripped out eyes (“In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy's eyes are gouged out prior to her execution. In art, her eyes sometimes appear on a tray that she is holding"). Unfortunately, I forget the names and details of most of the saints, but here are a few lines from ‘sensationalia’.
“i stole that sanguine candy-striped text
from the church library
slid under my little girl dress.
easter egg cover and bloody inside.
sensationalistic technicolor vibe
of martyrs so hot they boiled alive.
molten lead cauldrons. plucked-out
saint eyes in sharp-edged silver vessels.
flailing limbs fettered to mean, frothy steeds.
petit fours. pieces of naked ladies.
the gawkers, the voyeurs, the close readers of
fine print inside eviscerated innards”