The Martyrdom of

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton's Destiny

He lived to a higher standard,

So it should be no surprise

That his unexpected death

Was met by the standard lies.

All Poems by David Martin

(except "All the Way Down" by Thomas Merton)

"In my ending is my meaning."

-Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton's Martyrdom

They say his death was meaningless.

That's what they want us to swallow.

But in light of all the evidence,

Their argument rings hollow.

His life was full of purpose,

But we must to the world confide:

His words had no more meaning

Than the things for which he died.

The Thomas Merton Assassination

For reason of state

He had to be killed.

For reason of state,

Blood had to be spilled.

You're oh so naive

To expect moral purity

The man had to die

For our nation's "security."

Your thirst for the truth

Will just go unsated.

Our reason of state

Can never be stated.

Post-Christian Man

Look up to the organization

With the proper awe and fear.

Bow down to your earthly betters,

And safeguard your career.

Neither sun nor moon will smite you

In daytime or at night,

If you keep your waters waveless,

Regardless of what's right.

Your temporal protectors

Will neither slumber nor sleep,

As long as you are one

With the company that you keep.

With sovereignty unchecked

By any Higher Power,

The purposeful collective

Displays its finest flower.

That purpose is whatever

Our vulgar fancy wills

When no one's eyes are lifted

Unto the Psalmist's hills.

(Psalm 121 updated)

Thomas Merton Fairy Tale

Merton slipped and had a fall

And landed on his head.

A "banana peel" was introduced

Long after he was dead.

The slippage didn't make much sense;

It could give a skeptic pause,

So a prop was trotted out

And offered as the cause.

For almost half a century

The subterfuge held sway.

The men who took Tom Merton's life

Had everything their way.

Now the veil's been torn away;

The crime has been revealed,

While his "devotees" act as though

They wish it were concealed.

You'd think that they would surely know

That this makes them look bad.

Are they just embarrassed at

How badly they've been had?

Epistemological Mystery and Thomas Merton

How have the narrow and the gauche,

Flaunting “econ,” “psych,” and “soash,”

Eclipsed their intellectual betters,

Our once exalted men of letters?

They’ve certainly never shown that they

Have more perceptive things to say

About life’s deeper mysteries

With formulae and indices

Than our tested bards and sages

Whom we’ve trusted through the ages,

But for no reason demonstrated,

Our literati abdicated…


Except for Merton,

Who was assassinated.

Wise Monkeys?

Why haven't they looked into Merton's demise?

Here's what's occurred to me:

Our scholars have all averted their eyes

Out of fear of what they might see.

Learning from Experience

The Sanhedrin really blew it.

At the time, nobody knew it.

But once they saw how everything went,

They wished they'd contrived an "accident."

So Wrong about Thomas Merton's Death

To the tune of Patsy Cline's “So Wrong.

We've been so wrong

For so long;

So many have lied

About how Merton died,

We were wrong, oh so wrong.

We've been so wrong

For so long.

How could we guess

That they'd fool us like this?

We were wrong.

No shower-wet hand

Ever touched a bad fan.

That was just a ruse.

What Merton got

Was the fruit of a plot.

You must know whose.

We were so wrong

For so long;

Now we've seen the light,

And we must make it right.

We were wrong.

No shower-wet hand

Ever touched a bad fan.

That was just a ruse.

What Merton got

Was the fruit of a plot.

You must know whose.

We were so wrong

For so long;

Now we've seen the light,

And we must make it right.

We were wrong.

Thomas Merton's Hermitage Orientation

Said Merton to Abbot James Fox,

"You know that I'm not so inclined,

But back at the big Trappist box,

There are those who are you will find."


Too Much Knowledge about Thomas Merton's Death

Could it be we've learned too much?

If charged, we must confess.

We would be more popular

If we knew much less.

When we "knew" what others "knew,"

Everything was great.

Merton pros had not consigned us

To a "pariah" state.

Education's big with them

And ignorance the foe,

Except for those disturbing things

That they don't want to know.

"Merton considered himself basically a poet--not a philosopher or theologian.  But he was most often lauded for his clear and concrete treatment of complex issues in philosophy and theology."

-Israel Shenker

Silenced Oracle

The poet is the conscience of the nation,

Or, I've been told he should be,

But now I see no indication

He even knows he could be.

All the Way Down

I went down

Into the cavern

All the way down

To the bottom of the sea.

I went down lower

Than Jonas and the whale 

No one ever got so far down 

As me.

I went down lower

Than any diamond mine 

Deeper than the lowest hole 

In Kimberly

All the way down

I thought I was the devil

He was no deeper down 

Than me.

And when they thought 

That I was gone forever 

That I was all the way 

In hell

I got right back into my body 

And came back out

And rang my bell.

No matter how

They try to harm me now

No matter where

They lay me in the grave

No matter what injustices they do 

I've seen the root

Of all that believe.

I've seen the room

Where life and death are made 

And I have known

The secret forge of war

I even saw the womb

That all things come from

For I got down so far!

But when they thought 

That I was gone forever 

That I was all the way 

In hell

I got right back into my body 

And came back out

And rang my bell.

From The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton.

Thomas Merton's Stage-Prop Fan

To the tune of "Secret Agent Man"

There was a nice floor fan he used for cooling;

They rigged a substitute they used for fooling.

After he was whacked,

The ringer was unpacked.

Merton’s work against the war found termination.

Merton’s stage-prop fan.

Merton’s stage-prop fan.

They killed a Christian warrior, and they used a fiendish plan.

Beware of pious folks who claim you’re nuts.

Who say the monk they knew was just a klutz.

As though a lethal fan

Couldn’t kill a handy man,

This sounds just like the voice of desperation.

Merton’s stage-prop fan.

Merton’s stage-prop fan.

They killed a peaceful warrior, and they sold a fiendish plan.

The living conscience of the nation one day,

Victim of a household appliance the next day,

I don’t care where you go,

Searching high and low,

You’ll find no better choice for canonization.


Merton’s stage-prop fan.

Merton’s stage-prop fan.

He should be a martyr, but we bought their fiendish plan:


Merton’s stage-prop fan.

Waxing Indignant at the ITMS over Merton

"How dare you?" they said.

What else could they say?

The facts of the case

Would not go away.

Thomas Merton was stricken

In late '68.

To learn all the facts,

We've had a long wait.

The man passed away

Quite mysteriously.

A monk said that he shouted

Around 2, no, make that 3.

Another monk claimed he had showered.

He was wet, don't you see?

But he didn't write that

Until '73.

That monk, they would have it,

Was very nearly a saint.

Could one imagine him lying?

They all say, "We can't."

So, it's upon his fine word

That a fan did Tom in,

And the doubters all come

From some big loony bin.

Of whom are we talking

When we use the word “they?”

Checking the links, you needn't guess.

It's those at the top of the ITMS.

Street Art ?

On the corner of a street in Louisville

Where Merton had his epiphany

There's a sign of commemoration.

But now they've added something else,

And you'll be shocked at what you see.

Assassination 101

We all like to hear scary stories.

I'll tell you one that will thrill you.

If they thought it was in their interests,

Our government thugs would kill you.

It's all in the CIA playbook

Just the details they need to invent.

They really can be quite sloppy

When they set up their "accident."

So what if there are no good answers

To questions like "when? and "how?"

They know to the voice of "authority"

Most people will meekly bow.

Though the parts of the cover-up story

Can't be crafted to fall into place,

Our press will still spare no effort

To sell us the government's case.

When all we can hear is one version,

The government truth and no more,

Don't you wonder about all those reporters?

Just who are they working for?

What happened to equal protection?

Who protects us from government crimes

When we can't depend on our scholars

Or The News or The Post or The Times?

The Soviet state has now fallen,

With its empire constructed on fear.

But if we don't do something to stop it

We're well on our way to that here.

ITMS Hostility Explained

What does their loathing for

The facts we give them show?

They'd rather not know more

Than it's safe to know.

Correcting the Merton Death Record

After fifty years of misinformation,

Two things need to be said:

Thomas Merton wasn't wet from a shower,

And there was a hole in his head.

Thomas Merton Trouble Makers

Don't you think that the monks have suffered enough?

Why won't you let the man lie?

He just wasn't good with mechanical stuff,

And in due time it caused him to die.

We've assured you his death was an accident.

Who could have wanted him dead?

If you see him as threatening to anyone,

You must be off in the head.

The AP declared he was shocked to death.

We'll give it the first and last say,

And you who regard the man as a martyr

Can be off on your dreary way.


               -David Martin