Mankind is a slave to things mechanical,
And even a perfect day is not all dreams,
So, for a time, our hero busied is.
His person's bathed and scrubbed with
A heavy chair is placed and propped with cushions,
And a clean sheet obtained and spread upon them.
Now mirrors large are gathered in a ring.
Where mirror into mirror deeply looks
Down through the endless chain that leads afar
To eerie realms, 'tis dangerous to gaze
Too long, for fear the errant soul go forth
And ne'er return to the abandoned body.
Hut, through the avenue of looking glasses
Which stretches to infinity, a path
Is made whereby desired ones may enter
From the Without and bide with men awhile.
And next a stand is set at elbow reach,
With medicines and bandages and towels
And smokes to soothe the nerves from hour to hour.
Then from their close concealment come the tools,
A hammer of a goodly weight and balance,
Two heavy nails, of length and newly sharpened.
One spike is chosen for exploring's honor,
The other kept to be a measuring rod
To trace the progress of the wandering point.
The stage is set and everything made ready
For the sweet coining of the Queen of Pain.


"What, sorrowing Christ! You dare to show Your
Why are you here with such reproachful looks,
A guest quite uninvited? Is this sin
Which You forbid me do? I ask You, is it?
Yes, sin it is, but 1 do know Your secret,
You, without sin, excepting only this.
Yourself, when clothed in flesh, could not forbear
To mount the cross and taste pain's ecstasy.
Thus did You sin and yield to Hell's delights.
The world, deceived, still thinks You pure and
And maybe Heaven likewise is deceived.
But Hell and I do penetrate Your fraud.
Therfore, pale Christ, with holes in hands and feet,
Be pleased to turn away and get you gone"


The goddess conies, our Lady, Queen of Pain.
Slim, nude, long-haired, with eyes that are too
Upon her brow the sweat makes jewelled light.
Her twisting mouth attempts to smile in vain:
Bright blood runs down on chin from bitten lip.
A gnawing rat is hanging from her hip.
Between her breasts a smoking cross she wears,
Inverted, formed of metal heated white,
Which hugs her loveliness and, sizzling, sears
The flesh made ever new for this delight.
Each polished knee-caps in its center bears
A heavy spike firm driven in the bone,
And her high, pointed breasts display designs
Of venomed arrows. Piteous her moan,
Now soft, now shrill, except when she inclines
To murmur gasping words of wooing sweet,
Which her sharp sufferings render incomplete.
In her left hand she holds a nine-thronged whip;
Her right, concealed, is bringing things unknown.
Strange pangs she carries in convulsive grip.
She suffers and makes suffer. Every groan
To her is music. Mistress, found, is she
Of every type of fleshly agony,
Burnings and rendings, rackings, shootings,
Crushing and fractures, twistings and swift
Her beauteous body with its muscles lithe
Is cramped with torments, various, undescribed.
Fall, worshipper, and tear yourself and writhe.
Bite your own flesh, for she may not be bribed.
No jot of human suffering she allays,
But for your pain in measured pleasure pays.


Seated, he takes the hammer and a spike,
Seared with a match and steeped in iodine.
On his thigh's front he sets the sharpened point,
A hand's breadth higher than his bended knee.
Then, carefully aiming at the femur's center,
And calculating not to hit an artery,
He strikes with moderate force the opening blow.
The skin complains with numerous little nerves
And stings him with small pains, somewhat
The tissues underneath yield like a cushion
And cause the hammer's stroke to waste its power.
The flesh springs back; 'tis seen that the long nail
At this attempt has failed of gaining entrance.
He tries no heavy blows which might go wild
But, firmly holding the round steel in place,
Subjects it to a steady, rhythmic tapping,
With hammer motion mostly from the wrist.
Though the keen point is biting underneath,
The tough sub-skin still keeps the thick nail out.
But now the rhythmic clash and clinking rises
To sharp crescendo, gathering power and speed,
And with a sudden plunge the nail is through,
To force itself into the muscled thigh,
And fiery pain shoots clean from knee to hip.
He settles back to shiver just a little,
And sees with satisfaction that the iron
Is well imbedded in a spasmed muscle,
Which soon relaxes as he gets his breath.
The steel is very little out of line,
Though nice perfection in these things is hard.
Pausing, the man enjoys a well-earned smoke.


Resuming now with small blows carefully placed,
He sends the nail into another layer
Of aching muscle in its wounded sheath;
And so on down with gradual insertion.
Each exploration brings at first a pang,
Which soon subsides as the subservient tissues
Accommodate the round and hard intruder.
From nail and hammer, and the periosteum
Makes a complaint along the lengthy femur
That tells that the deep hidden bone is reached.
Pain is a violin with many strings,
To be played singly and in varied groups.
The time has come for a new penetration,
Which, although difficult, shall be achieved.


Again, again, the hammer's heavy head
Sends down the point to bite against the bone,
Hard, ivory-smooth, and guarded by fine nerves
Which do not hesitate to speak their thoughts.
Elastic flesh continues to spring back,
Lifting the nail from its protected target.
It is not easy for the drill to find,
On downward thrust, the spot it struck before,
But gradually a hole is chiselled out
In which by finger-power the point's inserted
And firmly held. Then little force is lost,
While steady pounding sends the iron down.
Only in knee and foot and padded hip
Is there a play to waste the striker's blows.
And, now, indeed, is felt vibration's thrill,
All up and down the hard and ringing femur,
With brittle, hollow and resounding sound.
The breath comes fast; the hurried pulses quicken;
And all the naked body's drenched in sweat.
A triumph! The intruding point is fixed
In the stout bone with such degree of firmness
That all the down-pressed tissues fail to pull
The iron out. It stays there, unassisted.
Skin, flesh and muscles are themselves depressed.
Now every blow is felt along the line
The nail has traveled, for, as it descends,
It drags its length along through clinging flesh
And rasp the injured tissues. And the hands
Do find that they can hardly shake the steel,
Which is right stoutly buried in its bed.
Now for a pause. The knee is flexed to treat
Assorted muscles to some painful cramps.
The nail is strong, and chosen not to break.
Here, certain organs, with the day's long strain
Too long arosed, are threatening revolt,
A mutiny with climax premature.
But a cold rain of water from a pitcher
Downs smouldering rebellion for the time.


Now the resistless nail into the femur
Sinks downward, breaking through the outer shell
Into the softer structures underneath.
Quick progress now is made, with various thrills
Along the lines of tension in the bone,
Which will not split in two just yet, 'tis hoped.
The goal is nothing less than to go on,
Clean to the undiscovered other side
Behind the bone, the back leg's hidden realm,
A new world waiting conquest. But, like most
Of human goals, it isn't to be reached.
The body, long held back, rises too fierce
To be subdued, and all its pent up power
Comes out in forceful and far flung explosion,
That shakes the soul and leaves it faint and weak.


As steady breathing slows the racing heart,
Calmness comes back, at least in a degree,
But there is much to do ere the return
To normalcy can even be attempted.
The spike presents a problem to be solved,
For, all unconscious that the show is over,
It rides the tortured thigh quite equably.
The fingers cannot budge the stubborn nail,
But still it wears its good head for a purpose,
And hammers also have another side,
For they are built to draw as well as drive.
Connection made, a pull brings no results,
Save that it lifts the foot from off the floor.
The situation calls for sterner things.
The hammer head is placed against the skin,
Straddling the nail, the handle pointed up.
Now a swift upward movement with both hands,
While leg strains downward, deals a clinking blow
Upon the other side of the nail's head.
Not too well done, e'en this has borne no fruit.
Now comes a rapid, hard and rhythmic beat,
Exerted upwards, traveling in reverse;
And, on a sudden, the close clinging bone
Yields to the captive nail, which gains a litlle
With a sufficient symhony of suffering
To satisfy the most exacting wish.
But now the brain refuses to take note
Of pain, which formerly it doted on,
And sets itself to do the job at hand.
An upward thrust, a pull, a wrench, a twist.
With one great pang, the iron comes clean out,
And nail and hammer clatter on the floor.
Now the black blood, long captive, gushes forth,
And soon the red blood runs in cleansing flow.
The leg is kicked about to make a lest,
And it will work, though surely somewhat sore.
That last heave nearly lifted off the lop
Of the stout femur's hard and ivory covering.
The listening ear detects a little chitter,
A little crepitation; some small sliver
Is torn away. Oh, well, 'twill soon stick on.
The crepitation, dance of the bone fragments,
Which have revolted from the body's service
And, with their little chattering tounges all sharp,
Inform the system that the bone is mined,
That dance will not be danced on this occation.
The day was not a perfect one; there are none.
But, as it was, 'twas almost good enough.
Sometimes remorse will speak after small orgies,
But great ones such as this are far too grand.
They're worth the cost. Remorse will hold its tounge.


The wounded thigh has shed enough of blood.
A clot has formed which checks the crimson flow.
It's fortunate that haemophilia doesn't
Invade the picture. Princes can't enjoy
These things without a risk more serious
Than is imposed upon a common man.
Infections, lockjaw, fever, inflammations,
Blood clots to stop the heart or still the brain
Are bad enough, but let's dismiss such matters.
Now medicines and bandages, and next
To clear away the wreck and make all neat.
Women will search for towels and sheets hereafter
Which go this evening into smoke and ashes.
Then, as the shadows of the night approach,
Our hero smokes and reads the morning papers.
Soon hunger speaks, and then into the kitchen
He limps to cook himself a heartly meal.