Some sins Argyle couldn’t stomach much.
Sins against virgin girls and animals,
women bearing children, men gone blind
from all but self-abusive reasons gave him
stomach troubles, like over seasoned meat
he oughtn’t to have eaten, but he always did.
Some nights those evils woke him in his sleep,
gaseous and flatulent, bent over his puke bowl,
resolved again to draw the line somewhere,
to leave the dirty work to younger men,
or anyway, to up his prices.
Maybe steady work with nuns whose vices
were rumored to go down like tapioca.
But no, those clever ladies lived forever
and for all their charities would starve the man
who counted for his feed on their transgressions.
Better to go on as he always had,
eating sins and giving souls their blessed rest.
What matter that his innards heaved against
a steady diet of iniquities
or that children worked their mayhem on his head
by carving pumpkins up in fearful effigies?
He had his holy orders and his mission.
He had the extreme unction of his daily bread.
Thomas Lynch is a writer and funeral director. He lives in Michigan and West Clare, Ireland.
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