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Peter Porter

"Who Gets
The Pope's Nose?"


It is so tiring having to look after the works of God.
          The sea will run away
          From martyrís feet, gay
Dissipated Florentines kiss tumours out of a manís head,
Scheduled liquefactions renew saintís blood,

In Andean villages starved Inca girls
          Develop the stigmata,
          Dying dogs pronounce the Pater
Noster on the vivisection table, the World
Press report trachomaíd eyes that drip wide pearls.

All investigated, all authenticated, all
          Miracles beyond doubt.
          Yet messengers go in and out,
The Vatican fills up with paper. The faithful
Work for a Merchant God who deals in souls.

Was there ever a man in Nazareth who was King of Kings?
          There is a fat man in Rome
          To guide his people home.
Bring back the rack and set the bones straining.
For faith needs pain to help with its explaining.

Fill a glass with water and gaze into it.
          There is the perfect rule
          Which no God can repeal.
Having to cope with death, the extraordinary visit,
Ordinary man swills in a holy sweat.

And high above Rome in a room with wireless
          The Pope also waits to die.
          God is the heat in July
And the iron band of pus tightening in the chest.
Of all Godís miracles, death is the greatest.

(From Once Bitten, Twice Bitten, 1964)


© Peter Porter
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