In appreciation of Anthony Burgess for his verse novel Byrne
. . .
Another brother came like Christmas sun
When Byrne the father thought his wells were dry.
His wife’s fertility had months to run
Before the menopause should bid it fly.
It seemed to him that what the Lord had done
Was like the dayspring flashing from on high.
His knowledge of the Bible being dim
He did not think of Anne and Joachim.

It was coincidence that made them christen
The fruit of this late coupling Sean or John.
Paternal pride made rheumy optics glisten
Behind the mended glasses they had on.
It brought the country past alive to listen
To lullabies culled from a time long gone.
But, like saint Joseph, he’d a certain doubt
About his wife the nights that she was out.

But Father Leary brooked no contradiction
About the unitary fatherhood.
Paternity was but a legal fiction,
And God was good, particularly good,
As was made clear from scriptural depiction,
At fertilizing. Earthly fathers stood
Stuck in a kind of foster-parent’s groove:
True fatherhood’s a thing you cannot prove. . . .

Problematic Patriarchy
(or, "Higher Father" Heresy)

“Why are you not about your father’s work?”
The townsfolk asked of Jesus, little jerk.
“I am,” he answered, pointing to the sky.
“A higher Father told me He’s the guy.”

So call him “Zeus” or “Yahweh,” Greek or Jew,
Earth women find Him lots of fun to screw.
And if their fathers, boyfriends, husbands bitch,
Tell them to grow ten inches. That’s the pitch.

“Mother’s Baby Father’s Maybe,” women say.
Have God and Joseph check their DNA.
Then Jesus can go looking for his dad
Among the “godly” men that Mary had.

This thing about a virgin mother reeks
With every word the priest or preacher speaks.
For if his genes came from his Mom alone,
Then that would make of Jesus Christ a clone.

See: No “Y” chromosome means no male sex,
Just mitochondria and one more “X.”
Church doctrine, thus, can down the toilet swirl.
Since genomes point to Jesus as a girl.

So if you’ve bought this “Faith” as taught to you,
You haven’t paused to think the whole thing through.
You skipped basic biology or slept
Till false, fantastic Figment you’d accept.

The choice to call the Jesus child “begotten”
Had implications rather best forgotten:
That casual – though “Heavenly” – flirtation
Led straight to uterine insemination.

What Mary said to Joseph, no one knows
When pregnancy cut off her monthly flows
And swollen belly said to all concerned:
“Not everyone, like Joseph, have I spurned.”

And now his kid goes skulking through the town
In search of theological renown
Embarrassing his cuckold father whom
A “God” had beaten to his mother’s womb.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2020