Canto CCLX

I have to field the question now and then—
when’s the date for baby’s christening—
I tell them she can choose her religion

when she is old enough, that I will bring
all of the world’s faiths to her attention.
Of course I hope she will choose no such thing

and make do with this life. If the command
to have no other god save for Yahweh
elicits worship from her adult mind,

I will not wave some Dawkins at her face,
although I reckon knowledge is enough
to keep the fear of any hell at bay,

the manifest versions of Pascal’s Bluff.



One term stood out during the Pope’s address
this Easter morning, when he said that God
had come down and passed through this “mortal mesh”—

as if these bodies, where our selves are stored,
are like a sewage system or a seive
through which the soul’s ambrosia is poured.

Millions of mortal meshes tuned in live
to join the thousands cheering in the square.
A mesh. A tiny dash marked on a grave

between the chiseled dates and yet that’s where
all of this happens, at least to those
of us that feel the mesh is all we are

and see it as the greatest vanity
to think we are the centre of the show.
There’s nothing smaller than eternity

compared to the enormity of now.

Canto CLV

I’m not a believer, so I don’t pray
for the man behind the closed ambulance doors.
The wreckage has almost been cleared away,

the motorbike’s a write off and who knows
the state of broken bones, the hammered brain?
I only have my thoughts to give and those

won’t ride a long, celestial hotline.
Across the road, above the large building,
the Standard with the lions and harp is flying

to let us all know that the Queen is in.


Charming infuriator til the end,
Hater of piffle, godly or otherwise,
Raconteur, rabble rouser, Rushdie’s friend,

I heard the news today of your demise,
Sank into a caffeine addled strop
To think that the fount of dry epiphanies,

Of withering put downs, patented Hitchslaps,
Papal pisstakes and Galloway grotesques
Had run dry. None can recreate your steps.

Every blasphemy was not in jest,
Rightly or wrongly, words still hit targets,
Holy Proofs shot full of holes and left

In tatters after you’d blown them to bits.
To be fair, I never agreed on Iraq,
Could see your point but couldn’t run with it,

However, when your viewpoints stood in stark
Exception to my own, your words still shone.
Now we can read your full body of work,

Savour each syllable, forget you’re gone.

Christopher Hitchens 13/4/1949—15/12/2011

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