The world is the house of the strong.
I shall not know until the end what
I have lost or won in this place,
in this vast gambling den
where I've spent more than 60 years, dicebox in hand, shaking the dice.
— Denis Diderot
Poems on Passing
Father Cahir kept us holy.
He smoked cigars in the confessional.
He had a distracted air about him,
as though he wasn't sure what
he was supposed to do next.
I don't remember what he taught.
History, probably. It was his
liberal attitude as a confessor
that made him a legend.
No matter what you confessed to,
he always barked out the same penance:
"Three Hail Marys and a Good Act
of Contrition. Next!" So we tested
this leniency, confessing
to rape, murder, burglary.
Cahir paid no attention.
He knew we were a bunch
of high school punks.
Puffing his cigar,
he'd issue his standard
penance and absolve all sins,
real or imagined,
with godlike aloofness,
his vast indifference to
or total acceptance of the darkness
within the human soul
exactly how I hope the deity
regards us. Take forgiveness
any way you can get it.
— Terence Winch
from Boy Drinkers. © Hanging Loose Press, 2007.