So often they dig
into the bedrock of their beliefs,
seeking iron ore to smelt
with the forge of their anger
so as to enumerate swords and arrowheads
with which to conquer in the name
of their faith,
only to undermine the very foundation of
We are gravediggers
humming hymns while we work,
shovelfuls of silence
packing thickly the honorable dead,
in the becalming bosom of the earth.
We put to bed those whose lives
have ceased in sudden violence,
whose harrowing finality
deserves the requiem
of hallowed ground
and gentle voices;
we tuck them in tenderly
as mournful mothers would
the sons who have paid
Listen to the soft rain of soil
as it reclaims such sons
born of mortal clay.
Some were believers,
some were not,
yet all are united in the esteem
and the debt
owed to them by the people they served.
Beneath rolling blankets of grass
they rest in reverence,
and we, the gravediggers,
paddle them to calmer shores
with our soothing shovels—
we sacrifice a few hours
for their sacrifice of many years,
hoping they find the peace
beyond a war-torn foreign land
crazed with the cacophony of
salvoes and cavalcades,
maddened with fretful waiting;
listen to the rhythmic lullaby
of our shovels
and know Charon’s song
toward restive sleep.
We are the gravediggers.
be at peace.
They only thought in black and white
while their world bled a crimson red
like newspapers tumbling at night
down an alleyway awash in light
and heaped with the bleeding dead.
Sometimes I cannot help but wonder
at Man’s cunning to multiply the dead,
but then I hear the rolling thunder
and see the lightning branching overhead
and, in a flash, see thousands thus slain,
knowing then the absolute blinding fear
of a god whose vast, fulgurous brain
is less Christ, more Holocaust engineer
with the power of electric chairs
flashing along thunderous synapses;
enough to kill whole towns unawares
while the god’s good temper ebbs or lapses.
And yet, why does such a god refrain
when death can be wrought quickly as thought can?
Note, the generous falling rain—
perhaps gods are as bipolar as Man.
The crickets all gather around
an oak tree to play their lonely songs
while crouching on the dewy ground—
they vibrate their wings in their throngs.
A single cricket left behind,
all alone while the others form pairs,
but continues his song to find
a heart to warm in nightly airs.
Little cricket longing for love,
sawing a song among the gnarled roots
of the oak tree looming above,
and fearless of the marching boots.
What faith you must have in this world
to play so boldly for all to hear
when the cold Fall winds are unfurled
and hungry predators draw near.
The soldiers all gather around
a campfire to sit so they may rest
while a soldier saws a sweet sound
from the violin at his chest.
He sings a sad song for his wife
left at home with his fair-haired daughter
and although there will soon be strife
he plays and plays without falter.
Little soldier mourning his love,
sawing a song among the camplight
with brothers alike, hawk and dove,
and fearless of the marksman’s sight.
What faith you must have in god
to play so boldly for all to hear
your heart’s music like that of Nod
as your enemies draw so near.
Sickly mother tosses around
in her bed, her brow ablaze with fire
and listens to the howling hound
as the crescent moon climbs higher.
Her daughter sits by the window,
the grandfather clock just behind her,
counting the seconds as they go—
each hour’s chime a sad reminder.
Little daughter at the cold glass,
what faith you have in a clock’s numbers
to wait for the slow time to pass
while your sickly mother slumbers.
You count each moment of each day
with a cadenced voice ringing clear
to answer the pendulum’s sway
as the descending Scythe draws near.
Within the river
a lone stone can change the flow—
just ask Goliath.
They believed themselves as having been
suckled by War
like Romulus upon the teat
of the she-wolf
before he slew his brother, Remus,
upon the wolf’s embattled bosom
to give eventual rise to Rome,
and that may be true of them,
but what cannibal-mother
did not suckle a child
to fatten him up
for the forthcoming feast?
Can you not see how she
while you suckle yourself