May Abasements


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page for links previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014, July/August 2015

May Abasements

our cathedral was considered

one of most beauteous in the province

it wasn’t as ornate

as some I have since seen

it did have a seductive luminescence

the dome allowed light through

the thousand and one micro mica windows

that during the May abasements

would catch the moonlight

to cast an eerie glow inside the nave

fractured moonlight glanced off

the polished antlers of the moose

that stood on the right hand of God

at the foot of the cross

the penitents would gasp in wonder

at such movements of light


we children would giggle

as we played tag among

the relics and icons

towering over the rows of pews

none of the penitents were willing

to pay obeisance to the strip joints

they wouldn’t allow their children

to caper with us

nor did the men slick their hair

with moose blood for luck

or even show their butter

in the eyes of He who gave us faith


every May pilgrims would crawl

through the streets of the village

wailing and bleeding

leaving discarded garments

money jewelry false teeth

in a wake behind them

at each streetlight

knees tender in the long crawl

from the city limits

they would cast off another item

so they would be lighter

in the eyes of the world

so they would have less to worry about

when the great moon shone on them

only their cleansed bodies

would reflect that magnificent light


we villagers would glean the cast offs

for what we felt would be of use to us

the rest we would leave to the the robins

once a week during the month

of abasements and purification

we would sweep this debris away

to the Whistling Woods

so the spirits there could feast

upon the remnants of the penitents


the penitents would ignore our taunts

even my mother

would come to see the crawling mass

just to throw cold dishwater on then

hooting and laughing

while the men would stand

there smoking and flicking glowing butts

at these overly demonstrative believers

as they inched up

the 10001 steps of the cathedral


the bishop would wait at the top

to hand each penitent a scrap of moose pelt

asking them to please not get blood

on the marble floors

his acolytes had spent days cleaning

for just this occasion

they accepted this with deep gratitude

acknowledging that surface cleanliness

was more holy than inner purification


Abasements pulls in myths from around the world. Reading it now I am reminded of a recent documentary about the Gaudie Cathedral in Barcelona – which I didn’t know about when I wrote this – which features this type ceiling work – as did many cathedrals – windows placed for specific glorious light to inspire worshipers with greater awe of God. It did in fact become a bit of a competition between cities to see who had the best, the tallest, the most ornate glorification of God.20jul02I wanted to make the glorification of moose both more awe inspiring and silly at the same time. There’s also a resonance with holy relics, with how touching the statue brings luck. There is also a sense that this sort of reverence is learned – children who don’t have the myth see the place as a play ground not a pray ground. I also explain more of the specific context of the village – the nature of strip bars & the sacrifice involved in being in one; making stripping a scared rite as opposed to a titillating entertainment.20jul03I push the spiritual sacrifice to the next level – the abasements were based on Lenten self-sacrifice – no coffee, no tea, no sex – things given up to purify one in the eyes of God. I’ve seen documentaries about pilgrims crawling to sacred sites to prove themselves worthy of healing. It was an easy exaggeration to get it to the level I take it – stripping away & how those around benefit from what gets cast off – a bit like the cargo cult.

Here the Villagers absorb the cast off into their own mythos – the Whistling Woods. I also delve into the nature go what is now called eco-tourism – people who travel to far away place to garner some sort of fresh insight but then do nothing for that place but leave their debris behind, they have no concern for the people who actually live there & often treat them like servants or annoyances – I’m going to crawl up your street whether you like it or not.20jul04The closing lines about blood are difficult for me to perform without breaking up. I usually forget how this piece ends so it comes as much revelation to me as it does to the reader/listener. I find this whole notion so hilarious, bizarre that when I finally get to it I am delighted with the blackness of this take on faith & how we often express it.


cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

August 12 – Friday:13466002_1105599606165115_2825996326656054174_n

September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016 (I’ve already registered)


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –


check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015:


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh?

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