Walking On Ghosts by Phil McNulty
It was the shock and awe of a thousand gilded icons,
reliqueries, and the death-cult horror
of martyrdom, and mutilation
which scared benefaction from the rich,
taxes from the poor,
in the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Porto.
beseech and scream torment and accusation.
The gold monstrance, overwhelming, ghastly in its monstrosity,
with tonsured priests, sculpted and spying from niches and alcoves,
silently intoning the word from the dust of the good book.
As light flickers on an ascendant Madonna.
While saints, sinners, priests, Madonnas, elbow and fight for wall space
imploring attention from the crucified Christ,
in his loin cloth,
hanging before this magnificence.
Their obsequiousness, for sale or rent,
to those wanting the pomp and condescension of the catacombed dead.
Those underground immortals, status preserved,
who never repented their slaves, grand theft, genocide,
rape, pillage, torture, cruelty and mayhem,
but paid passage to heaven.
We, the poor, walk on their graves
and glance over their grand names with indifference.