"The Judgement": a poem by Jamie McKendrick


The mosaic on the façade
of Prague’s St Vitus cathedral
shows the damned all dressed up
as for some dance
but being dragged towards the mouth of hell
by demons with hooks and halberds
while the blessed are naked
gently lifted by angels
out of their gaping sepulchres
– you look twice kind of
expecting it to be the other way round
but it’s not some Bohemian
naturist’s whim rather
that the damned are attached to their
trappings their habits of concealment
& the blessed have nothing
to hide or be ashamed of
The nakedness of prisoners
before the smirking guards
taking cellphone snapshots
and with hellhounds
wrenching at the leash
is innocent however
guiltily they’re massed
in a catasta of flesh

This article first appeared in the 07 May 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The Science Issue