Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Four Poem Re-Drafts

Mahershalalhashbaz

An angel in heaven was flying
to and fro o'er all the earth;
an angel in loud voice crying,
"How many, O sons of men?"


In starlit skies, bright-shining,
Mars has wandered to work his will;
the wolves on the plain are howling,
carrion-vultures take their fill.

How many men are fallen, sons of men,
how many dead and dying
in great Ascalon and Tyre?
How many widows crying,
where blood flows down like water
from a horse's smashing hoof?

How many youths lie dead, O sons of men?
How many in graves unwed,
where roses grow, and poppies,
on bloody fields of war?
How many, O ye nations?
How many slip to darkness,
each face to be seen no more?
How many men are fallen, sons of men?

The formless hand its word has written;
mene, mene, tekel and parsin,
no longer is it hidden.
With fire you have shown it, sons of men,
branded it on the children's faces
as they laugh and as they play,
new names to them have given, sons of men:
"Quick pickings, easy prey".

An angel in heaven was soaring
o'er sea and all the earth,
an angel in heaven roaring,
"How many, O sons of men?"



Judas

Christ was looking to the heavens,
looking with a sigh and frown,
looking for the time of day;
'Judas, make my way,' he said,
'buy a room in Zion-town.'
Judas said, 'A stately dwelling
I will buy us for the feast --
money rings within the wallet,
bells of silver, thirty piece.'

Judas searched then over, under,
Judas searched then broad and deep.
Nowhere did he find a dwelling,
nowhere was a room for having,
nowhere would his money buy it,
coins of silver, thirty piece.

Tired from his ceaseless searching,
ceased he then to nap a while,
deeply on the lawn he slumbered.
When he woke, the noon-time vanished,
nowhere could he find the wallet,
nowhere could he find the money,
treasured silver, thirty piece.

Judas wept and beat his breast,
crying, 'What can now be done?'
Judas wept for thought of failure,
wept (for what would others say?),
fearing to return to Jesus
without dwelling, without wallet,
without silver, thirty piece.

But a young man near was shouting,
'Have you heard? The priests have posted
prize for word to help them capture
Joshua the Nazorean,
trouble-making, rabble-raising:
prize of silver, thirty piece!'

Straightway Satan spoke to Judas,
'Never has the Lord been caught,
grasping hands he has eluded.
Can they capture one who conquers
blindness, sickness, lameness, death,
walks on water, loaves and fishes
multiplies like grains of sand,
water turns to wedding wine?
Crowds he passes through unharmed!
If he from the temple height
were to fall, the Lord's own angels,
soaring down, would surely save him!
If he were in starving hunger,
stones he'd surely change to bread!
If he wanted all the kingdoms,
kings would fall before his power!'
Judas to the scribes and priests
made a promise to betray,
promised to deliver Jesus,
for reward to fill the wallet,
costly silver, thirty piece.


Judas came again to Jesus,
saying he had found no dwelling,
nowhere taking merely silver.
Christ then looked up to the heavens,
looking with a sigh and frown.
John he called, and also Peter,
gave to them a different mission:
'Silver cannot buy a dwelling,
time is short, too soon too late.
Go now quickly to the city.
When you enter in the gate
you will find a water-bearer;
let him guide you to his home.
Ask the master of the house
"Where is found the special room?
He who asks has pressing need."'

Judas followed, worries lightened,
thinking how he was so clever,
how the priests he had outsmarted,
how he trusted in his Master,
how he had made right the problem,
thinking he would get the money,
shining silver, thirty piece.


The Narcissist

So fair is his existence,
few hearts resist;
a third of heaven would turn traitor
and give up bliss
to catch the lying promise
of his kiss.

His beauty is so great,
his style so nice;
his smile sparkles so,
like starlit ice,
that God might die to make him --
were that the price.

Yes, the Devil is a lovely creature --
and he knows it.
All creation and his smile
show it.

He sits up in the airs,
face like a god,
devoid of heartfelt cares!
(But it is odd
how frozen he is there
with ruler's rod.)

His beauty has no match.
No equal vies
to rival the mighty light
with which he lies;
it is so easy, and so simple,
to despise,
if you lift yourself up higher
than the skies.

Yes, the Devil is a lovely creature --
and he knows it.
Would to God he had the grace
not to show it.


The Harp and the Vine

You ask, and I wonder,
but I still know my mind;
here in the garden the columbine
spirals and curls, begging for rain,
while your words like the thunder
echo from clouds;
I know your pain, but I am proud,
and here in the garden the rosy thorn
still mocks me,
ruthless in its scorn.
You ask, but the iris will pay you no mind
as the wind starts to hum
through the harp and the vine.

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