Three Types of Atheism

by Sean Haylock (August 2020)

Gladiateurs, Giorgio de Chirico, 1928




Speaking Objectively


Once in America there lived

A dour guru who believed

The virtuous man a psychopath

Who scorned the weak, and never laughed.

Habitually she was inclined

To knocking back amphetamines

And overfond of cigarettes

She strung out all her acolytes.

She styled herself a brilliant sage

And worshippers of her image

Declared her mind second only

To the unmatched Aristotle

(It seems doubtful that they’d read him).

They promised a new paradigm

To clear the medieval mist

And thwart that wretch called Jesus Christ.

With brave self-love (Man’s noblest trait)

They called pity degenerate,

And showing serious chutzpah,

Pronounced their slogan, “A is A.”

Their error was to have forgotten

(Effectively declared verboten)

The truth: our need for mother’s teat;

We’re each of us a parasite.



The Bitter Quietist


Every variety of abject hell

Confirms that man’s a cruel confounded ape

And history’s blundering course is how I tell

That fate has each of us gripped by the nape.

I’ve scorn to pour upon morality,

Which certain theorists say is a game.

I’d sooner side with them than I’d agree

That God calls everything by its true name.

The parties of firm principle have shown

There’s nought to pick the noble from the petty

So I’m content to sound a righteous groan

And stage a march with black pills for confetti.

Our only hope’s to see things as they are

And wean ourselves off wine of Paul’s terroir.



Squint at Ben Stiller


That comely Grecian urn:

It’s your brain.

A longing to return:

It’s your brain.

The smell of sun-warmed earth:

It’s your brain.

Joy at your child’s birth:

It’s your brain.

Enchantment in a tune:

It’s your brain.

Sheer rapture on a spoon:

It’s your brain.

Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Proust:

It’s your brain.

Chablis, champagne, vermouth:

It’s your brain.


My heart grows weary, mouthing this refrain,

But I remind myself you can’t be blamed.

You weren’t designed for reason; you’re a brain.



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Sean Haylock has a PhD in English from Flinders University. He lives in Adelaide with his wife and son.

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