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I     Introduction                           (Where We Went)

II    Sons And Daughters                 (Who We Were)

III   Dress Codes                           (What We Looked Like)

IV   Extra-curricular Activities           (How I Fit In)

V    Sisters                                  (Holy Cow)

VI   Academics                             (What They Taught)

VII  Brothers                                (Exceptions To The Rule)

VIII Graduation                            (What I Learned)

IX    Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience      (Keep Parachute Handy)

X     Alumni                                  (Outstanding Balance Due)

XI    Alma Mater                            (Dear Old Battlefield)

XII   Addendum 1                           (Parting Thought)

XIII  Addendum 2                                (Update – July 2008)


Xavier High and Mercy High School actually exist

The other names are altered to protect the essayist

First written summer of 1991, revised and expanded winter of 1992

© Copyright 2008, Vice-Versa, Jas Hilsdon



(Where We Went)


I entered Xavier High, Catholic school for men-to-be

The very year it opened back in nineteen-sixty-three

Fresh out of Catholic grade school, my blithe anticipation

Consisted of a mixture of dread and fascination

I’d had first-hand experience with knuckle-rapping Nuns

I thought to be more mean than they, you’d have to be the Huns

But one remarked to me on my way out of there at last

“Wait till the Brothers get you! They’ll straighten you out fast!”

     “Who? Me?”, I asked aghast

Xavier was a brand new school of great and far renown

I watched it rise across the valley in our little town

It’s very presence lent our small community esteem

The likes of it not seen before in all of academe

Everything was spanking new the day we started classes

The blackboards, like our squeaky minds, were Tabula Razas

The desks had not accrued a single ink stain, and as yet

The locker rooms had not absorbed a single drop of sweat

     The plaster was still wet

Because we were the first of students to matriculate there

The honor fell to us of being first to graduate there

The first to use, abuse, and carve our names into the bleachers

And those who followed after say we broke in all the teachers

The teachers were referred to as Xavierian Brothers

A group of men who joined the clergy to escape their mothers

The Brothers were reputed to have had a fine tradition

Of teaching youth the difference between Heaven and Perdition

     For which they charged tuition


Sons And Daughters

(Who We Were)

Our sister school, Mercy High, five miles down the street

Would need another two full years before it was complete

We couldn’t let the Catholic daughters just stay home and wilt

And so we shared our brand new school with them while theirs was being built

We welcomed them into our halls the frosh and sophomore years

It would have helped to mitigate the all-male atmospheres

But Brothers stayed upon the first with all the Catholic sons

While all the girls were kept upon the second-floor with Nuns

At general assemblies, to which both the schools would come

The students all fit nicely in the new gymnasium

The girls would all be ushered to the left side of the hall

The boys were guided to the seats on the opposing wall

The teachers noticed all the guys compulsively would stare

As if they couldn’t stand to not be seated over there

Where all the Catholic daughters sat, and that the girls from their side

Seemed equally as eager to be sitting here on our side

So next time they assembled us, they had the wise foresight

To put the guys along the left and the girls along the right

We found it unfulfilling to be seated opposite

And merely staring back upon the sides we used to sit

But this arrangement, sparing both the sexes from contact

Should keep our lustfulness in check and chastity intact

I needn’t mention this was not the case in all respects

It also helped produce some very interesting effects . . .

     We all developed rubber necks

Of course, there were the after-school events, but to be honest

Knowing that the eyes of Nuns and Brothers were upon us

Mixing with the Mercy girls at football games and such

Was just like going water-skiing leaning on a crutch

But watching all the Mercy High cheerleaders jump and scream

Produced more than enthusiasm for the football team

Nor did the yearly Musicals, so thoroughly-rehearsed

Cause our maturation processes to be reversed

Now if our rules were stricter than the rules at Public Highs

Considering instinctive drive, it was just as wise

As Catholics we were taught that lust was there to counteract

But if we kept it all in check, we barely held it back

Most would think of sex no more than any starving soul

Most appeared to keep their appetites within control

But some might think that even though they weren’t supposed to do it

The best way to remove temptation was to give in to it

Sneaking round in risky, surreptitious rendezvous

Underneath the bleachers or behind the chapel pews

Could only fuel a craving. Fear of being caught

Just heightened the experience, but Co-ed it was not

Our wild and caged libidos had to be content with bits

Of furtive glances of the female species in our midst

The one thin floor between us was to keep our minds on class

But for all the good it did, it could have been of glass

When Mercy High was finished and our guests moved out for good

Xavier High assumed it’s purer state of bachelorhood

We spent the first few months of junior year adjusting to

The campus life without the females messing up the view

     The Brothers missed them too


Dress Codes

(What We Looked Like)

The dress codes made you wonder what ascetic recluse thought ’em

The lasses had to turn out in a brown-plaid top and bottom

Dress-shirts and sunday-shoes were standard for the guys

It didn’t hurt if you procured a set of power ties

The “cool” guys started wearing tapered pants constructed of

Iridescent “shark-skin” cloth that fit just like a glove

Pants that might have hinted at testosteronic lockets

That fit so tight you couldn’t shove a comb into the pockets

The principal declared right off, this fashion was unsightly

He devised a test to determine if your trousers fit too tightly

You dropped a golf ball through the leg from the waistband to the cuff

If the ball got stuck along the route, your pants weren’t loose enough

You received a warning if the ball got hung up in your thigh

If the ball got hung up in your calf, they’d sometimes pass you by

But if you came attired in such that the test you could not pass

‘Cuz the ball got hung up in your crotch, they’d send you home from class

I rushed right out and bought some pleated pants of navy blue

With legs with so much room you could have dropped a beach ball thru

But now and then a few of us attempted to indulge

In styles that barely passed the test, yet still betrayed some bulge

Upstairs the girls were warned about the length of skirt they wore

When they got down upon their knees, all hemlines had to touch the floor

But on the buses after school, away from the Sisters’ eyes

They hiked those brown-plaid hems up to the middle of their thighs

     In front of all the guys

Hair was expected to be neatly combed and trim

As did befit the most outstanding Catholic gentlemen

Elvis Presley sideburns, duck-tails and pompadours

Were promptly seen to exit if they entered Xavier’s doors

Brother Rabbit said these styles were all out of the question

Because the very sight of them brought sexual suggestion

I’d say, in affirmation of the Biblical reprise

That he could solve the problem by removing both his eyes

My mother always told me since I can’t remember when

That hair was often used to hide a multitude of sin

So I supposed a crew-cut then was such a saintly item

‘Cuz you would not commit ’em(?) if you had no where to hide ’em?

But everything went haywire when the Beatles hit the scene

And introduced a new way of rebelling as a teen

Not only did their music give me hope for my survival

They caused a universal, tonsorial revival

The “Beatle-do” began to rear it’s ugly head at school

Brer’ Rabbit quickly ushered in an anti-moptop rule

God himself had sent him word to not let guys appear

With hair so long the ends “caressed” the brow or “touched” an ear

But little did he reckon what inclined us to ignore ‘im

Was not some passing fancy, but a new trend in decorum

His hands were full with portions of the student population

Providing us with haircuts as well as education

It wasn’t easy to rebel against Brer’ Rabbit’s norm

We knew he’d “disappear” us all if we did not conform

Each time my ears began to make the slow ascent chapeau-ward

He’d pluck me out of class and send me out to get them lowered

     I combed my crew-cut forward



Extracurricular Activities

(How I Fit In)


The colors of our Xavier High were merely black and white

They signified the fine, grey line betwixt darkness and light

And symbolized the struggle between God and Satan’s pack

Which manifested mostly on the football field out back


The varsity was famous for it’s power and it’s skill

It’s not who wins or loses, but how many rivals you can kill

Their symbol was the Falcon and it wasn’t such a bad one

It would have been a mascot, but we never actually had one


The Falcons played the game with such a sense of divine mission

They swooped like holy birds of prey down on the opposition

And sent a tacit message to all challengers state-wide

That God was the almighty and was on the Falcon’s side


The faculty encouraged us to boost our educations

With any of the after-school athletic occupations

But right away these intramural areas became

The provinces of those who liked to torture, kill, and maim


I went to football tryouts once. I ran out for a pass

I lost sight of the pig-skin till it hit me in the . . . pants

I tried my feet at soccer, but I changed activity

The day I stopped the ball with my center-of-gravity


In track and field, I wasn’t even close among the hopefuls

Who saw nothing odd in chucking spears or running ’round in ovals

Or risking life and limb to fling themselves through space, face down

From handstands at the ends of poles, twelve feet off the ground

     “I’ll see you guys around.


Intramural basketball did not fit the description

Of anything you might mistake for friendly competition

The way those jocks would slam each other on the court, I swear

You’d think they all had half-a-dozen shins and knees to spare


I thought perhaps ‘cuz I was tall, the team would love to use me

But when I finally got the ball, their yelling so confused me

The one point that I did score, I’m embarrased to report

Was for the other team. They shamed me off the court


The guidance counselor told me I was not cut out for murder

Something less competitive for me, perhaps “sheep-herder”

I joined the school’s newspaper staff and lasted just a day

Reporting scores and broken bones to games I couldn’t play


I don’t begrudge the school for giving sports such emphasis

If I had had the killer instinct, I’d have been in bliss

But while I had to sacrifice my grand Olympic dreams

I saw no need to go to any opposite extremes


If sports was the epitome at one end of the scale

Photograpy Club offered all the passion of a snail

I thought I’d rather stay behind and clean blackboard erasers

Than hang with camera-toting, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker chasers


I knew Library Club was for the pointy-heads at Xavier

But never thought them capable of blasphemous behavior

Until I caught them cerebrating wildly in the nooks

Committing bibliolotry with magazines and books


Then down there at the bottom of the non-scholastic coffer

I found one last activity they almost didn’t offer

I almost missed it there myself, but took another glimpse

Then went and joined the Glee Club with all the other wimps

     I’ve never joined one since





(Holy Cow!)


The Nuns were living symbols of the Holy Virgin Mary

And struck fear in the heart of every Tom, Dick, and Harry

You’d swear their long black gowns and veils were hammered on with tacks

And on each big, black, leather belt there swung a hidden battle-axe


They all had eyes behind their heads in constant lookout for

The Xavier lad who may have wandered to the second floor

Their job it was to keep the Catholic daughters chaste and pure

If you contracted ‘love sickness’, the Sisters had your ‘cure’


Like gargoyles at a castle gate they stared you down, unblinking

As if to say, if they so much as caught you even thinking

Of any Mercyite without appropriate repentance

You wouldn’t have to wait till judgment day to get your sentence


Their rosary beads and crucifixes hanging from mid-section

Were menacing as laboratory tools for vivisection

And must have come in handy, given such efficiencies

If needed to perform emergency vasectomies.


They X-rayed you with loathing if they caught you in the hall

With eyes that bored right through your skull and pinned you to the wall

Their tendency to come out of the shadows would remind you

That God may be omnipresent, but Nuns were right behind you


In ‘sixty-five they moved away from Xavier’s hallowed halls

And into Mercy High before the paint dried on the walls

Which brought a sigh of thanks to every Tom, Dick and Percy

Guess that’s why they called themselves the Sisters Of Mercy

     Their patron saint was Circe





(What They Taught)


Education is a way to make us busier

The price we have to pay for things that make life “easier”

Is spending our entire childhoods in captivity

Committing all the data that we can to memory


If I had then what I have now of academic raptures

I would have earned an even lower average from my captors

Unless they would have given passing grades if just to show

That I learned more in school than I would ever need to know


Every Brother specialized in his selective science

And taught a secondary subject: Physical Compliance

Brother Lord-Don’t-Hurt-Us taught Humility and Math

From Brother Concubine we learned Salvation History and Wrath


Brother Aunt-Jemimah taught us English and a version

Of public oratory, also called: Casting Aspersion

It didn’t take us long at all to get the basic thrust

And see that the aspersions he was casting were at us


Brother Clam-hand’s method made you wish you could avoid

His reading from the text aloud with stuffed-up adenoids

The most important thing he taught, and constantly repeated

Was: Those who don’t know History are doomed to hear him read it


Not all of our instructors, though, were robed and brotherhooded

A half-a-dozen men and women, as I understood it

Were members of the laity, which meant they must be paid

The brothers, on the other hand, were not considered laid

     Which meant they must be . . . spayed?


Coach I.Q.’s adventures as the football coach revealed

That facts were ‘goals’, grades were ‘scores’, Science was the field

The class was the ‘team, we ‘huddled’ over ‘diagrams’

He ‘passed’ the lessons to us, we ‘tackled’ the exams


We got some basic Physics and a good game on the side

But once I saw the Newton law of gravity defied

A student made a crack in class the coach just didn’t get

It went so far above his head, it hasn’t come down yet


Brother Filler-up taught us French, but I soon took the stance

That I could do without it if I never went to France

And I believed, in spite of passing nearly all his quizzes

To speak it right, you had to have a nose as big as his is


(But . . . ten years later when I met une jeune fille de Marseilles

I changed my mind, tout de suite, mon Frere, mai oui, Je parle Francais

There’s nothing like a femme fatale, when all is said and sung

To teach a guy appreciation for the foreign . . . tongue)


Mister Bill Magenta did his darndest to secure

Our deep abiding reverence for Classic Literature

The books that everybody wants to have accumulated

But no one really wants to read, unless they’re illustrated


I learned to read between the lines to get at something groovy

And that you cannot judge a book by looking at it’s movie

But mostly that the paperbacks were more apt to engage us

With stories that were written for remunerative wages

     Pass the funny pages


Art at least was something I so much looked forward to

I couldn’t quite believe that we got credit for it too

Mister Lunar-land was so good-natured and sincere

I used to wonder what in Hades he was doing here


His encouragement brought out our latent skills and graces

We painted landscapes, sculpted clay, and sketched each other’s faces

I got straight A’s for drawing objects, almost like in trade school

Things that used to get me into trouble back in grade school


Brother Rabbit edified us to his pet reflection

To have the proper ‘diction’, we must first achieve ‘inflection’

His Grammar classes could be hot and heavy expeditions

Exposing us to all of his suggested prepositions


Along with good grammatic samples of adulteration

He made us look at genitives in the act of conjugation

From these explicit models we were taught to recognize

All the copulative verbs, with our naked eyes


In Music with Miss Gauza I was actually astounded

To learn Classical music sounded better than it . . . sounded

But for composers to be worthy of our teacher’s ears

They had to have been dead and gone at least two-hundred years


In Chemistry I learned to read the writing on the wall

The science that gave man gunpowder, atom bombs, and alcohol

Induced in me a wish to see the book, sooner than later

Convert to carbon atoms in the school incinerator

     Along with it’s creator


What I recall of Algebra is easy to relate

You simply take the formula where two unknowns equate

How much I learned divided by the ways that I confused it

Is equal to the times in life I’ve needed to have used it


In freshman year Religion we became enlightened to

The finer shades of dogma in the Catholic point of view

We learned at least to use our minds in every other ‘ism’

But got no points for rationality in Catechism


If you ‘think’ something is a sin and do it, then it will be

It doesn’t matter if it was or wasn’t, it’ll still be

But if you think it’s not, it doesn’t matter what you thought

It all depends on if it’s mentioned in the book or not


Our senior year discussions had a tendency to blind me

One day I got so lost in thought, they had to come and find me

We pondered that if God is omni-powerfully great

He should be able to create a rock of such God-awful weight


That even He can’t lift it, so in either case it’s wrong

To say there’s nothing He can’t do. He isn’t omni-strong

I think this must have strained my over-burdened confidence

My faith flew out the window and I haven’t seen it since


Now in our quest to gain a college entrance level status

I wasn’t sure I had the right cerebral apparatus

But if I’d known how much I had of academic scruples

They could have had me teach a class, and made the Brothers pupils


They promised us with Knowledge there’d be Power to our credit

But those who know this History are doomed to not forget it

So one thing I allowed myself to go through school ignoring

Was: If you can’t learn something nice, you must learn something boring

     If not downright deploring





(Exceptions To The Rule)


The Brothers were the representatives of Francis Xavier

And sacrificed their happiness to emulate Our Savior

They gave up an assortment of desires and ambition

To put the fear of God in us, with the Pope’s permission


They all wore shoe-length, drab, black cassocks throughout all the seasons

They carried licenses to do mean things for holy reasons

They taught Faith, Hope, and Charity, but if they didn’t trust

That we absorbed it properly, they beat it into us


They bid us be forewarned of their uncompromising measures

But how were we to know that they indulged in them for pleasures

Not all of them were mean, but some were mean as they could be

And ill prepared to handle their responsibility


Take Brother Aunt-Jemimah, what a lovable old cuss

One quarter ton of raging, wounded bull rhinocerus

This Falstaff had to heave and hustle such a heavy hip-load

If he were any bigger they’d have given him a zip-code


You couldn’t help recoil when his anger would appear

He’d hear a noise in class and bellow, “THERE’S A BIRD IN HERE!”

His bear-sized mitts and frequent fits would fill us all with dread

Half the time the “birds” that he heard were in his head


One day he yanked a classmate by the hair and shook his jibs

While at the same time brought his knee up in the student’s ribs

The kid, still clutching to the desk amid this reprehension

Rose up six inches, desk and all. We called this “The Ascension”

     It got the kid’s attention


Then there’s Brother Clam-hands, just a sentimental guy

Who had a special way of bringing tears to your eye

He grimaced like Three Stooges while delivering his censures

(The hair inside his nose was long enough to floss his dentures)


He puffed his cheeks and squeezed the air out through his baked-on frown

Sometimes I didn’t know if not to laugh or cry at such a clown

But if he caught you fidgeting, he’d grimace, puff, and scoff

Grab you by the sideburns, and try to rub them off


Brother Concubine was mechanically inclined

But the warning light did not come on till after this one lost his mind

You heard the cogwheels turning as he got you in his grip

His ears went ‘Red Alert’ and a trigger switch would trip


A spring released a rocker arm, a tumbler dropped in place

And with precision torque he let you have it in the face

It left the brains inside your skull scrambled, rattled, mushed

And quite uncertain just which button you should not have pushed


Brother Rabbit was the High School’s chief Xaverian

His purpose was to make sure we weren’t having any fun

His business was to know what sins young Christian men preferred

But he seemed to be more interested after they occured


His tactic was to get you to confess the juicy details

Of what went on in private between you and any females

His duty was to stand out in the hall or in the lobby

Before and after classes and survey the ‘Student Body’

     Or was that just his hobby?


Brother Lord-Don’t-Hurt-Us, that peccant-sniffing creeper

Who also had a part-time job moonlighting as Grim Reaper

Would prowl the halls and classrooms like a spectre of doom

The temperature dropped ten degrees when he walked in the room


If he did not like your haircut, if he did not like your stance

If he did not like your pointed shoes or tapered, stove-pipe pants

If he found fault with your conduct, or thought your smile was rude

If he had burnt toast for breakfast, or just felt in the mood


If he just plain did not like you, why, Son, your name was ‘Mudd’

He knew just how to break your spirit without drawing blood

He grabbed you by the neck-tie to insure you couldn’t duck

And he left his bony fingerprints embedded where he struck


It’s one thing when you lose your temper and reach out to whack me

Another to derive sadistic joy as you attack me

Officially they called it ‘Attitudinal Exorcism’

But what you really witnessed was ‘One-way pugilism’


He slapped you once upon the cheek when you were reprimanded

And then as if to underscore the words that Christ commanded

He slapped you once again so hard the red remained a week

Before you ever had the chance to turn the other cheek


They vehemently, systematically reduced your stature

With words that would humiliate a Teamster’s truck dispatcher

They took you for a scape-goat if you couldn’t be elite

Or part of rock-jaw, Coach I.Q’s prestigious football fleet

     They used you for a skeet


They  brought you to your knees within their byzantine regime

They sized you up, they dressed you down, they trashed your self-esteem

They sent you to confession where the Chaplain would appraise you

He said a prayer above your head and if that didn’t faze you


They sent you home to Mom and Dad who had to hear the story

Of how you ‘coiffed’ your hair at school and now you think you’re sorry

The one thing you fear even more than being reprehended

Is telling Dad your status as a student is suspended


You don’t want to upset your Mother more than you are used to

And so you just don’t mention how the Brothers have abused you

You know your folks have worked and slaved to pay all that tuition

And so you try and please them with a good act of contrition


Your parents then would have to go and talk with Brother Rabbit

And pay the standard ransom for your self-indulgent habit

For once you went so far as to get yourself ejected

Only death upon the cross could get you resurrected


But when your parents came to school, the Brothers acted ‘nice’

All full of smarmy handshakes and meek as pious mice

Adopting mannerisms born of old Pecksniffian prudence

They’d heavenwardly glance and say how much they loved their students


Yet when they’d threaten to withhold the prized diploma from you

Unless you’d yield to uninspired attempts to overcome you

It made you feel like education’s costing you a fortune

Paying for ‘protection’ by submitting to extortion


They made my father sign in blood on pain of mortal sin

That I would never let my hair get near my ears again

Nor would I be allowed to comb it forward with exemption

Such were the terms agreed upon that ended my suspension

          I called this my ‘Redemption’





(What I Learned)

By the time we graduated there in sixty-seven

I wanted a refund on my deposit into Heaven

For though I stood there holding the diploma I had earned

The things I had been taught weren’t quite the things that I had learned


I left there having figured out, albeit rather slowly

The Holy Roman Empire is anything but holy

And if that didn’t qualify it as a miscognomen

It neither is an empire, nor is it really Roman


Though I could easily recite the Fifteen Mysteries

And rattle off the Ten Commandments quickly as you please

Recite the Seven Virtues and the names of Twelve Apostles

The Fourteen Stations of the Cross and half a dozen Gospels


The Seven Sacred Sacraments and how one must apply them

There’s only one good reason why I simply didn’t buy them

I knew I’d rather live in sin and happily be tainted

Than go through life a scape-goat, to end up being sainted


I understood the church was fondest of a mystery

That hadn’t the least shred of verifiability

But not how when you give your life to things of such pure essence

There’s little else to do for kicks than bashing adolescents


I knew enough to not react to people out of spite

And that, unlike our High School colors, things were never black and white

But failed to grasp the proper way to redefine a virtue

When someone who professed it promptly came along and hurt you

     Is that how they convert you?


I’d just begun to realize that nothing’s carved in stone

But what convinced me to rely on my beliefs alone

Was all the theists selling stocks at fluctuating rates

Just betting on your odds of getting through the pearly gates


And this reverberating, unforgettable suspicion

If Christ were here, alive, today . . . He wouldn’t be a Christian

I’ve yet to learn how they expected us to be inspired

By models whose behaviour left so much to be desired


I’ll grant you that a good old-fashioned Catholic education

Will broaden you and quicken your scholastic maturation

But don’t go counting on some special “goodness” sent from Rome

The faith and hope and charity I learned, I learned at home


If Catholic schools are better, it’s because they always drill you

With things that make you stronger if they don’t, in spirit, kill you

Whatever else the Brothers had in mind when they contrived it

I now could hold my head up high and say that I survived it


Deliverance arrived on graduation afternoon

While classmates beamed like butterflies emerging from cocoons

I looked more like some insect with it’s wings clipped to the minute

And felt like an elastic band stretched to it’s very limit


I’d gone with my emotions put on temporary ‘coma’

I only stuck it out to get the coveted diploma

Till after I returned the graduation gown and cap

And with the sudden freedom came a loud elastic snap!


What happened next would merit neither infamy nor fame

Although it may have caused some tarnish to the family name

Suffice to say, according to the great conservatory

I’ve earned about ten-hundred-billion years in Purgatory

     But that’s another story




Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience

(Always Keep Your Parachute Handy)


It’s been some time, I don’t know where the Brothers all are now

But now and then another one’s renounced another holy vow

Some have traded chastity for matrimonial bliss

Preferring real affection to “self-abuse”, I guess


Some cashed in their poverty to take a shot at wealth

Financial independence is a state of mental health

And some, because you aren’t allowed to have your own idea

Unless it’s been approved by the Council of Nicea


Have ceased to swear obedience to the Roman Catholic King

Or kiss the papal buttucks or the Bishop’s stupid ring

In order to pursue an old and long repressed ambition

Of doing what they please without a written requisition


But many sorely tempted men who are not dead and gone

Have managed to maintain their firm resolve and stay upon

The Apostolic path, no matter how the path unfurled

Because they couldn’t hope to make it in the outside world


Ironic, these protected, cloistered persons of the cloth

These misbegotten throwbacks to marauding Visigoth

With all their toxic venom and their unconfronted fears

Should be the ones to have prepared us all for our careers


The Church will call these faithful few, “obedient and chaste”

The rest they’ll classify as having “fallen out of grace”

If it were me, in neither aggragate would I be lumped

For when I realized that all that nonsense could be dumped

     I didn’t fall. I jumped





(Outstanding Balance Due)


Nowadays when I speak out on how they were so cruel there

People sometimes tell me that I shouldn’t have gone to school there

But that’s not how I look at it, I wanted to attend

Not what Xavier High School was, but what it should have been


Some underclassmen think that I exaggerate because

They too attended Xavier, but it’s no longer like it was

And if you didn’t go there at it’s earliest stage

You can’t imagine Xavier in it’s darkest age


Perhaps you think we asked for what we got along the path?

We must have tested limits or provoked the brothers’ wrath

I’m unaware of any explanation or provision

That justifies their vitriolic, immature derision


Though many years have passed and I’m not one to hold a grudge

It’s unresolved, like something in the craw that doesn’t budge

And many times I’ve fantasized about how to repay them

For every personal attack and private act of mayhem


What would I say? I’ve sometimes wondered, if I had my druthers

And I should chance to meet one of those venerable brothers

I’d like to see him scold me now for my length of hair

Or try and castigate me for the cut of pants I wear


If he could see the man that I’ve become this interim

He’d understand I’ve overcome a whole lot worse than him

Of course he wouldn’t dream of launching into some attack

Now that I’m fully grown and big enough to smack him back

     Don’t think I wouldn’t, Jack!


Now that he can no longer use the power of his station

To force me to comply with some unwanted transformation

And I’m no longer subject to the cowardly attacks

He carried out on Christian sons behind their parents’ backs


No doubt he’d treat me differently, according to the plan

Of standard sociability, smile and try to shake my hand

Would he remember his abusive treatment long ago?

Or be surprised if I returned his treatment blow for blow?


Sometimes when I recall I get so angry I could spit

But still I haven’t one desire to hurt the little twit

Perhaps I’d blow cigar smoke in his face and ask him, “Sir

Would you mind just explaining who the (bleep) you think you were?”


Or then sometimes I think perhaps I’d do as Christ would do

Gaze on him forgivingly and utter, “God bless you

For Christ in all his wisdom said to, “Love your enemies

I wonder if that must apply to hypocrites like these?


It doesn’t give me goosebumps now or fits of joyous laughter

To hear they slackened up the rules on those who followed after

So what! if they’re more tolerant and currently upbeated

They never sent apologies to all those they mistreated


They may be fine fair fellows now but much mistaken men

To think I’d ever turn the other cheek to any of them again

I think that even if they feel remorse or have demised

They still deserve to have their past behaviour publicised

     Before they’re canonized


( I get alumni newsletters every month or so

Whoever writes them never fails to hit you up for dough

With all the wealth locked up behind the Vatican door

I can’t imagine why the brothers have to beg for more


Unless it’s used to help defray the ponderous expense

And rising cost of torture chamber tools and maintenance

Or else it meets improvements in the next edition

Of their monthly periodical, “The Inquisition


Some alumni may feel indebted to those bullies

For straightening their backbones out with racks and pulleys

But I think all the gold inside their tabernacles

Could easily be made into new chains and shackles


I don’t claim to be Christian, though it’s not a quarrel with Christ

I just don’t hold with celebrating human sacrifice

I won’t endorse religions that condemn my appetites

Nor will I ever care to practice superstitious rites


So, no, I will not fund the inculcation of their youth

They hit me with their best shot and never touched the truth

I haven’t anything to give them other than disdain

for urinating on my shoes and calling it ‘rain’


The one suggestion I detest the very most

Is sending thanks for making me a whipping post

They charged us all admission to their living requiem

So if the fees already paid aren’t thanks enough to them

     Melt down their diadems.)


And sometimes it occurs to me that they were only human

There’s only so much knowledge any one man can illumine

So if someday there is a Brother I should chance to meet

Perhaps at some reunion, or in passing on the street


And we should get to talking of the good old ways and means

And he asserts that he regrets his old contemptible routines

It’s likely then that he will voice a common point of view

He’ll say he learned from his mistakes and I’ll say, “I did too


“No matter how far you progress in seminary college

It can’t begin to substitute for spiritual knowledge

And that no matter how much one believes in what he teaches

He who understands it, lives it, he who doesn’t, preaches



     “I learned, at least for all you moral character molders

     Obscenity is something in the eyes of the beholders

     And that no matter how hard you denounce what you despise

     It doesn’t make the thing obscene in someone else’s eyes



“I learned, according to the rule of doing unto others –

The punishment decidedly preferred among you Brothers

For being so vindictive and malevolently strict

Was to be smacked upside the head and have your rib-cages kicked


     “They say we must forgive ’em and forget ’em to abide

     If I have not forgiven you, it’s not because I haven’t tried

     I may have got the order accidentally reversed

     And tried to put the sooner half, forgetting you, first



“They say we live and learn, well, Brother, does it not surprise you

that I have found an antidote your venomed faith denies you?

What grade would you award me now for learning to possess it

in spite of all your past religious efforts to suppress it?

       Don’t bother. I can guess it




Alma Mater

(Dear Old Battlefield)


When they first opened up the doors and registered the scroll

We freshmen were the only class permitted to enroll

It seemed as if we were the favored of the deity

To be so lucky as to come of age in sixty-three


The upper grades would have to wait for Xavier to debut them

Until the proud inaugural classmen were promoted to them

Each year we took the next grade up as it became instated

And others came and filled the lower grade we just vacated


For all those first four years at Xavier, under these conditions

Our class enjoyed the most unique and rarest of positions

We were the only underclassmen I have ever found

Who hadn’t any upperclassmen pushing them around


No matter which grade we were in, it was the highest one

But there was little privilege in that upper echelon

For if exempt from upperclassmen getting in our faces

At Xavier High the Brothers took the older bullies’ places


They must have thought we’d miss not having any class above us

And felt they had to beat us up to show how much they love us

I think they learned from those who were in turn taught to assert

If things that hurt us teach, then things that teach us have to hurt


When all is said and done, the Brothers do deserve some credit

For helping us to recognize theology and dread it

And in the end they did us all an everlasting favor

And spared us the expense of emulating their behavior

     It paid to go to Xavier


We are the one and only class in Xavier’s history

To have no class before us, but it didn’t come for free

We came to learn and learned we had to challenge their adherence

To over-rigid, dated codes of conduct and appearance


And so the class of sixty-seven ought to be revered

Not for having finished first, but having pioneered

We wore the brothers down for all the rest with our defiance

And taught those men the meaning of malicious compliance


We were the front-line infantry, the Vanguard of the corps

We took the brunt of their assault and begged them all for more

They gave us all they had until they’d spent their ammunition

And when they had no more to shoot, they softened their position


They reconsidered and decided almost overnight

That longish hair and tightish pants were actually alright

Then came to the conclusion with a sudden, violent jerk

That when it comes to teaching VirtueViolence doesn’t work


By then the class of sixty-seven had it’s graduation

And never got to benefit from this capitulation.

But as we passed the torch on to the class of sixty-eight

we had the barest glimpse of changes we helped instigate


And though we never saw direct results from our response

without the darker ages there could be no Renaissance

At least we have the satisfaction knowing that the others

who followed us received a better treatment from the brothers


I hope they all appreciate that it was not so easy

to blaze the trail and pave the road they ride along so breezy

But if some underclassman tried to thank me, I would say

No thanks are necessary. I’d have done it anyway

     Vide et te nosce!





(Parting Thought)

Xavier High School

1 9 6 7

Be A Man


Our high school motto, “Be A Man”, was truly unforseeing

Was there some other gender they thought we might end up being?

As if there weren’t already such great chauvinistic pride

To show your weakness at this school would get you crucified


In honor of our silver anniversary of Xavier

I now propose a maxim of a more panhuman nature

Although you spend your life collecting trophies on the shelf

You’ll be mature when you can learn to … “See And Know Yourself

Xavier High School

1 9 9 2

See And Know Yourself





2nd Addendum

(July, 2008)

As to the part of me you tried to save with your rebuffs

I sometimes think you simply didn’t beat me hard enough

But last I checked, I’m still a man, though not among the he-men

I must suppose I’ll be a man as long as I’m producing semen


I’ve gone through life with one important all-abiding dictum

I will NOT fall upon your sword, I will NOT be your victim

Any loss I suffer, you will NOT be my EXCUSE

Any triumph mine I won’t ascribe to your ABUSE

     I’m cutting myself loose


© Copyright 2008, VICE-VERSA, Jas Hilsdon


All Content © Jas Hilsdon, 1949-2014



jashilsdon [at] gmail [dot] com


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