Foundation

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
Paradise.

Gravediggers (Dedicated To Carl Sandburg)

We are gravediggers
humming hymns while we work,
shovelfuls of silence
packing thickly the honorable dead,
embedding them
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
such sacrifice.
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,
the oarsmen,
the ferrymen,
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.
Please,
be at peace.

Brainstorm

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.

Horologe

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.

War’s Feast

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
salivates
while you suckle yourself
complacent?

Nordic Skies

Hooves within the thunderstorm stampede,
hammering the black anvil of night,
rain falling like Valhalla mead
as clashing blades spark bolts all alight.

The gods are feasting in honor of war,
hobnobbing drunkenly amongst themselves:
Odin, Heimdall, and the thunderous Thor
with mortals, dwarves, Valkyries and dark elves.

With their fists the drinkers drum the wood planks,
shaking goblets, plates, and many a bone,
and thrum their chests and give many thanks
to Odin for claiming them as his own.

The sonorous spaces of Valhalla boom
with merrymaking and bitter barroom brawls,
like the sky itself, knowing so much room
that battlefields of men can enjoin its Halls.

A bard is commanded to strike the lute
and sing a sweet song in honor of Death
and as he strums, all others fall mute
to hear the bard’s faintest lullaby breath.

“You, warriors among these hallowed Halls,
have your fill of milk and honey and roast
to honor having answered the calls
to war, and so wish now a goodly boast.”

“And a boast I will give, equal to measure
of your worth now, your bodies gone to rot
so the worms may feast, at their leisure,
or else you were burned to ash and to naught.”

“Regardless of honor, your lives are forfeit,
some of you slain at home, some in foreign lands,
and the most you may boast for good of it
is that you grow flowers plucked by a child’s hands.”

The thunderstorms subside at long last
and the clouds move on, the sky now clear,
and the stars shine bright, moonbeams cast
while fog ghosts mourn and the Dawn draws near.

To John Bolton

Near-sighted banty rooster
thinking himself a
thunderbird
to bring fire and fury
to the Middle East,
yet
clawing at his own tailfeathers
and claiming it the work of
desert vultures
as he flies headlong into yet another
Bush,
entangling himself in the branches
as if they belong to a
bird of prey
equal to his own outsized
sense of self.
Clipped, he flies with
waxen wings
toward the Arabian sun.