Muir Holburn - Selected Poems

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   in the


there are gospels and cold things,

little gilt crosses embossed on parchment,

gummy tongued stickers of holy pictures,

a vat of hard starch for sticking then in with,

their own glum glue being quite cracked off,

all faded away.


Down in the crypt,

there are muffins and tea pots,

paraphernalia designed for failure,

dregs and sugar bask in brown stained basins,

with coarse-toothed cups for a false toothed parish,

collapsable pews and crippled trestles,

all folded away.


Down in the crypt,

the winter light is ashing,

prowling through grime-lidded basement eye-balls.

Limp shadows drip from a flying buttress

on silver framed photos, of flaccid rectors;

frail Emily’s blue bow from her hair last Sunday

lies smashed in the dust.


Down in the crypt,

there are now no tea-meetings.

The matrons are too busy knitting

interminable hose for courageous kinsman.

Nevertheless they appear at Sabbath

to partake of a meek god’s songs and substance,

and crave forgiveness.


for we sin, O Lord, with paralysing regularity


Down in the crypt,

there are cupboards and playblocks,

manifold enticements for the tender sceptic,

sinister sermons, seductive legends,

a green chilled perfume of dead-sweet incense

whose limpid flame has passed away

to glow




August, mcmxxxix







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