Black Cassocks

I met the duke and his duchess
and the naive fra pandolf
one muggy spring afternnon

Better things to do in April
than sitting reading a poem
but boredom seeped away
as I forced myself to sit quietly
reading and memorizing
word for word all 59 lines
before standing to recite it
aloud before the Jesuit
sitting at his desk up front

That April afternnon introduced
me to Browning's gallery
of scoundrels and rogues,
friars, priests and smug prelates
who spoke with the tongues
of men whose hearts pumped
blood, red and hot!

*If hate killed men, brother,
God's blood, would not mine
kill you! Hell dry you up! *

*Dolores with Sanchicha
steep tresses in the tank,
blue-black, lustrous,
thick like horsehairs! *

*A face looked up...
zooks, sir, flesh and blood,
that's all I'm made of! *

*If you get enough beauty
and nought else, you get
about the best thing
God invents.*

Then and there I decided
that black cassocks
were not for me!

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