Religion begins as treachery
When ritual or text precipitates
A sense of the unreality
Of the karmic world of inheritance.
Philby swigging imported scotch
Of the monk nostalgic for succubi
Who has exchanged life for the desert.
Antony Blunt uncovered in Poussin
A great subverter of pastoral dreams.
A serpent glides by the black lake
To fasten on happy Eurydice.
All our best things are going to break.
Anger at their fragility
And Western culture's Arcadian lies
Led to a traitor's enlightenment.
The legends of treason are beautiful.
The dark girl of the Bull's religion
Gave herself to the matador
Who killed the god in her father's maze.
They fled to
Until the god of the mazy dance
With his drunken revellers from the mountain
Swept her off in an ecstasy.
A similar ecstasy fired the monks
Who killed sardonic Hypatia.
On behalf of the Civitas Dei
Such traitors break the commonwealth.
Borges composed a straight-faced essay
Which proved on theology's own terms
That the Man of Sorrows rejected of men
Was never Christ but Iscariot.
And yet all faiths produce the saint
For whom the desert flowers. He is
Selfless as rock or tree, so harmless
Foxes and lizards eat from his hand.
Being detached from the karmic world
And not desiring any creature,
The Maker's love wells up in him
For men, women, animals, stones...
I see a Siamese devil holding
A temple gong that's shaped like a boat
Who as he dances swings a hammer
To draw attention to nothingness.
Here at the threshold of meditation
The self I'm betraying takes this shape;
Ecstatically in its wavy armour
It lifts that knobby, ridiculous head.