Monday, December 11, 2006

The Ballad of Brother Taddy

Last week, Wilfrid, one of the monks, told us about a famous murder in the Abbey that took place in the late 1930's. My colleague, Ann Marie Stock, decided it would be a good subject for a poem so she got the ball rolling. By the end of the week, she and I had jointly composed our own, "Ballad of Brother Taddy." Fr. Killian has promised that it will make its true debut appearance in the St. John's community at the annual Christmas feast. So, here's your chance to get a preview:

Br. Taddy’s Missed Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the Abbey,
not a creature was stirring--especially not Taddy.

The priests were all nestled in choir so tight,
That their ears were all stifled from hearing the fight.

And pray they did, hymnals open so wide,
Little they knew of the action inside.

From church they did file to the Great Hall,
Brothers Bernard and Cletus, Pious and Paul.

The Abbot was upstairs as were the priests,
The brothers were downstairs preparing the feast

Garden green beans and peas, juicy pork hocks,
And kraut with St. Joe Meat Market brats.

Carrots and mutton and barley-hop stew,
Chicken, potatoes, sliced beet root, too.

While the monks up above consumed their repast,
Below the glass shattered from a forceful blast.

The novice did lower his gun for a shot,
Mistook Br. Taddy for a deer--he did not.

With cell doors half windowed in transparent glass,
He made his plans, forgetting the mass.

Affection once felt, now burned like shame.
So holding the rifle, he slowly took aim.

His love for another was quite unrequited,
As he looked down the muzzle, his love now was sighted.

Abbot Alcuin ‘pon learning of poor Taddy's fate,
Didst screw up his face while scratching his pate.

Now it was clear old Alcuin must act,
But his primary focus was to form a monk pact.

The civil authorities just must never know,
For to do so that night might strike a mortal blow.

To cover up lustful desire and killing,
Henceforth would be the Abbot’s heavenly billing.

He swallowed and gulped, then looked at them all,
And said “Time for vespers; get to the Great Hall.”

The monks sang the Psalter--one choir to the other,
But meanwhile they noticed their one missing brother.

The novices squirmed as they wondered aloud,
Where, oh where, was their confrere in shroud?

In the cold of the Abbey the monks shivered to know,
Where on the campus Br. Taddy did go?

By that time their dear brother was cold, lifeless, and dead,
While his cold-blooded killer did tremble with dread.

And since that event from so long ago,
Both monks and visitors seek to know

Just how and when did the deed fade away,
And how does it shape St. John’s Christmas Day?