Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Young Astronomer

One night a young astronomer
Did gaze upon a star
And saw it glowing brightly there
Like the antithesis of tar

He gathered up his scholar peers
To ask what it could mean
But they all said, “it’s meaningless.”
“Ask again if it turns green.”

They jeered and mocked him as they went
Not looking with their eyes
To see a star in daylight blaze -
What could it symbolize?

Yet two did stay to speak with him,
The young astronomer,
One who studied the histories
The other literature

They spoke of tales and prophecies
In some far western land
Of a coming king and saviour
Who would rise to God’s right hand

They asked the young astronomer
If he could lead them to
The place beneath the star’s zenith
Without further ado

The boy surprised to hear all this
Began to hesitate
But in the end he chose to lead
Their long adventure great

The men they packed their camels high
Provisions stacked in cliffs
And yet the boy said, “One more thing!”
“A king deserves some gifts.”

The two rich wise men thought to give
And spare no small expense
Thus they found the most lavish gifts
Purest gold and frankincense

The young lad wished to give as well
A kingly gift like myrrh
He worked and saved and sold his scrolls
His small means did not deter

He bought his gift and then they left
Just guided by a star
And through the desert and the plains
They journeyed from afar

After questing lengthened days through
Lands barren, burnt and wild
They came to a small Jewish town
And found a Jewish child

“This child,” said they, “Will one day be
The King above all kings
Great joy and mercy, justice too,
Love and hope is what he brings.”

They laid their wealthy presents down
At the small boy’s tiny feet
And Mary with her husband watched
Them give a royal greet

And then the young astronomer
Said “these our meager gifts
Laid at his feet are naught compared
To He who heals our rifts”

And if they entered in that day
Two magi and a boy
They left that place on homeward paths
Three wise men full of joy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Forgotten, Forgotten, Forgotten

The air is dark with approaching death
And I hear it in the silence
Of forgetting and forgetting and forgetting
Wars, past and present.
Televisions and movie theatres
Add to the dull hum of silence
The sound we all make as we ignore
That which we thought we left behind.

It was not left to burn in fallen Troy
We did not leave it at Thermopylae
At Jerusalem’s gates
Or Rome’s hills.
We did not leave it in the dust of Carthage
At the yurt flaps of Khan
Or the bottom of The Channel
Gorged with the husks of ships
And the fragments of men.

We did not leave it on Abraham’s plains
The bloodthirsty dirt of Gettysburg
Or the long road back from Moscow.
We did not leave it at the door of the Bastille
The fields of Somme and Passchendaele
The skies over Britain
Or the waves in the harbor of pearls.

We did not leave it at Berlin’s feet
Or in the husks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
It does not wander alone in Korea’s no man’s land
It does not lie dormant in the jungles of Vietnam
Or the killing fields of Cambodia
It is not broken as Yugoslavia

It has not sounded its death knell in Rwanda
It does not lie dead in the deserts of Iraq
Or exposed on the hills of Afghanistan
It is not gasping for breath in Sudan
Or falling into a coma in Somalia

It lives and breathes forgotten
Like a crawling parasite
Behind the eyes
Burdening the mind of humanity

We forget and forget and forget
That war is not left on the battlefield

War remains with us
And in us

War is in our souls

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Screen Glow

The glow of screens will light our way
To happiness, we’ll seem content
The shine of screens will make our day
As all our times are nearly spent

And as we write our tales in books
We take a retrospective glance
To see the times and he who took
Them all without a second chance

Look! there he laughs so full of spite
A shapeless thing of blue aglow
The one who turns our days to night
And wastes our times to bring us low

All the hours he greed’ly drained
To gulp and swallow down our days
While we, deceived, were safe restrained
Our books contain a single phrase:
“I lived to be just entertained.”
And all that our frail lives contained
Will not be worth a mocking praise.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Sounds of Fate

A roll of the dice
A flip of the coin
Red plastic cubes bouncing erratically
Across a felt-lined table
A metallic coin spinning end over end
In over oxygenated air

They come to a stop
And you find yourself here
Free to flip or roll
Or stay and choose.

Yet perhaps your choice
Is but another’s roll
Across some cosmic table
Or flip
In some darksome void
I choose to flip or roll.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Across the Strait

I begin to see the raindrops
In the distance.
I can’t hear the pitter-patter
Or feel the soaking dripping cold
Of the remote pouring.
I’m in the warm sunlight
Watching rain across the waters.
This strait—
Seeming a gulf—
Here and there
I and you
Us and them
Perceptions from reality
Scattering the truth like raindrops
In the distance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Mark of the Raven

Ah, I see in your smile
A recent visit from the bird
Who marks our faces

Crow’s feet
Or raven’s
Around the eyes
He lands
And leaves his mark
Then flies
Shattering the sound
Of safety

Show your mark
Show your raven-scar
Show where he stood
And printed
Eulogies to come

Show your crow-scar
With a smile
And a wink
Laugh along with
The black-winged joker
His sign was known
Before it marked your face
His sign is hidden
In the soft skin
Of babies
He even lands on the womb

So do not fret
His constant flight
His cackling
His dark aspect
Do not worry
When he comes
To mark your eyes

But laugh
Laugh with the crow
And raven
Laugh that soon this coil
Will unravel
And release
Its tainted captor

To what?
To where?
Perhaps some distant shore
Some sunrise
Or sunset
But never