Phillip Medhurst

Wisdom from a Gnostic Sage



Behind the grimy concrete and

Glaucoma’d glass old Pelles groans.

He feels the stain grow wider from

His thigh, and looks for meaning in

The ceiling cracks.


Mordrain, spastic tetraplegic,

Turns towards the upraised Host. (His

Head is all that moves.) The priests some

Formulaic salve dispense from

Tarnished pyx.


Elsewhere a youth is kneeling at

A stream, and catches silver to

His downy lips. By this refreshed,

He cycles on again to do




Francis of Assisi


My verdict is as follows (mark it well):

Francesco Bernadone is a fool.

He thinks that he can strip our Mother Church,

And rob her of her dowry held in store.


If she is to be wed to high-born men,

We should not treat her grossly as a whore

Who gives her favours freely, from the heart,

To all who beat a path up to her door.



Cathedrals are not built with lepers’ hands,

Or chantries by mere gutter-deaths endowed.

Bejewelled shrines must dazzle tear-filled eyes,

Not rustic dolls laid out on heaps of straw.


Francesco and his half-crazed crew may stalk

Unto their hearts’ content this countryside,

But they shall not invade our frescoed walls,

Or stigmatise the icons we adore.


We rest secure beneath our mosaiced domes.

The chant of priest, the tinkle of the coin,

Ensures the soul’s release, the sinner’s balm,

While gospel-truth is safe beneath the floor.