Monday, February 9, 2009

Gospels of War

Chapter One
Undisciplined, illiterate boys

were scooped and poured
into the meshing grind
and out the end of the machine
cast iron soldiers
fell and filled the bins,
and by the case were
wrapped and shipped
off to the welcome furnace.
And then and there
we thought we saved ourselves
from some gnashing,
snakehead evil
or from the unknown fate of those
who play the unknown pacifistic card of faith
then risk hand of an unknown God;
or had avoided our own man-to-man,
sweat-to-sweat and God-to-God
fight-to-the-death by
bayonet, bullet, hand.

Chapter Two
As I ran from the bombed hospital,

another something happened and
all they ever found of me
was my left foot
inside my boot
and then and there my fellow patriots
lost themselves.
Loading their blind weapons with
consumptive, blazing vengeance,
the infection spread
to slaughter the
heart and souls of entire nations,
the wrong ones were being killed
and killing.

Chapter Three
After the bombing,

through the fallen dustscape,
stubborn smoke of burning dirt,
he found face of a crying baby,
still held in her headless mother's arms
and then and there
he lost his world.
With time,
he began to understand
this grotesque art of human will
serves catalyst to
redemptive revelation as
he found himself to be that child
gripped in his headless Savior's clutch.

Based on first hand testimonies of eyewitnesses to
World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sand Sculptures

In the forefront of the onslaught
when the Janjaweed attacked,
there she was,
clothed in black,
astride her camel,
screaming at God,

for more bullets.
Later, I moved so close
to watch a moving mouth deny
what the world already knows;
I tried to look inside it,
had to see if flapping Satan’s tongue
was made of spongy rubber.
His desert agents live on rape,
creatively compete to pile
dismembered herds of living humans,
and carve artistic autographs
of blood
on black-stretched canvasses.
Fortunately, genocide is not so ugly
when it involves strangers,
when we watch it long enough,
and when it’s left to be discussed
by journalists and politicians.
If just two hundred thousand more could die,
maybe we could see another
tearful TV special,
get to mourn with Monday friends
at our favorite Starbucks,
and maybe even find excuse
to pray somewhere for peace.
But for now,
another shares her thoughtful recollections,
remembering the home she left:
"...and they gouged out my neighbor’s eyes
and squashed them in the sand,
then placed them in his shrieking hands
to keep as souvenirs."

Copyright (c) 2007 Gary Brown

Did Jesus smile to himself
as he washed the feet of Judas?
Did Judas?
Cozying up next to Jesus during dinner,
did he hope to win His glance, some extra credit
or perhaps even make Him laugh?
As Jesus began to understand
the envy, the anger, the future of his friend,
did He invest a little more in Judas stock?
Back at the table, two arms reach
with roughened fingers gripping bread
and bound for the same dipping bowl, knuckles bump;
Jesus counts the jury's votes
but not to be upstaged, Judas steals the exit scene.
In a few hours each was found
with advertisements hung upon them:
One said, "Jesus, King of Jews",
the other read, "Will work for glory".

Copyright (c) 2007 Gary Brown
When He Lost His Rant And Had To Sit Quietly In His Chair

There is no revenge for humans.
There is but one retribution and is not ours to savor;
it's saved for some future, dank,
back alley, closing universe
where God will weep as He
disassembles His most gorgeous archangel of light;
that one who gripped the Holy saber by the blade,
sliced his palms along it and
grinned as his blood trailed across this virgin planet,
stained our dust before we breathed.
Since then, our festering thirst of selfyness and
each man's not-so-sacred limp and drawl
amuses this fallen ventriloquist
who lives to blow words in our mouths,
jerk our limbs about,
toss us in the trunk;
a thief without a place to fence his goods.
Ignoring script of destiny, he
stuffs his orphanages with clucking souls,
nervous waifs and cocky shrouds who
hide their question marks inside vest pockets;
he pushes nations down time's shuffleboard,
scores endlessly imagined points at a nonexistent game
in which he will never know a victory.
So, we can forget our anger
since we have not been harmed except
to each one's self by each one's hand;
for only honest victims garner quarter in their
sacred culprit's wide display upon the coliseum's floor
where tigers of the evidence dine on justice;
a holy place where we are not invited.

Copyright (c) 2009 Gary Brown
A Certain Metal Manna

The atom bomb,
Oppenheimer's metal infant of regret,
through a drainpipe in the sky
whistled out a gleeful tune as prelude to
their traveling opera, "Saint Vaporo";
brought clever tidings of a most strange love:
"Unto you is born this day August 6 at 8:15 a.m.,
of one Enola Gay, great with child,
the mythic Little Boy.";
and for fifty-seven seconds
ten armed surgeons of the air held their breath,
watched delivery of that spanked, wailing babe,
the triumphant entry of this newborn king.
Out of town, in the mountains,
celebrating my fourth birthday,
we waited a few weeks
until my mother brought me home
to the greydust, flattened, charred-street desert,
the melted bones of Hiroshima.
I thought it such an awfully grand production,
that day when some strangers came to town
and burned my new tricycle.

Copyright (c) 2009 Gary Brown
The Devil's Haystack

From his neighborhood's porches,

sidewalks, street curbed corners,
mommies and daddies swallow paper bags of venom,
while children watch, learning life.
The language of anger,
words of war with one's self,
hopeless murmurings, cursed profanities
flow as prayers at breakfast.
Mistreated, malnourished family pets
serve as surrogate angels to
these giggling, wide-eyed,
attentive ambassadors from our future.
Deafening car speakers blare propaganda of despair,
disillusionment, pathogen of idiocy
to babes' and siblings' tender ears
and once-pure brains,
stunting hope.
Among what passes for existence,
this Diogenes searches with his swinging lantern,
studying faces, scanning hearts,
perhaps to spy an honest dream.

Copyright (c) 2006 Gary Brown
Choosing War

When God enabled war, some angels did prefer it,
as do we when we hum its anthem;
demand Lucifer and Michael
face off, slug it out across the ballroom floor.
Without an inside tip, we do not care yet place our bets,
stake everything for chance to fight a fight.
We know the Devil cannot sing or dance;
we watch him take his slop-foot stance.
As this other wingless wonder takes the stage
we know that angels do not fly, have gender, age.
When clanging bell ignites,
we pit them 'gainst each other
as we do our versions of every good and evil,
our personal rights and other's wrongs versus Truth,
making war religious entertainment.

Copyright (c) 2007 Gary Brown

With these, while in his infant crib
he reached up to feel the air, play with the breath of God.
With these, he
pushed toy trucks through backyard grass,
shoveled Cheerios in his mouth,
swung his bat and caressed his dog while sleeping.
With these, he fumbled with his microscope
and slides in science class,
played ball on high school courts and fields,
punched his best friend's shoulder and
held hands with a teenaged angel.
With these, he typed and clicked the college nights away
while glued with coffee to books and notes,
drove his car to work and class and work and class
and work and class and still found the odd weekend to
repair and paint the home of some whose
wrinkling, failing bodies robbed them of this chore.
With these, folded, he sometimes simply sat,
stilled them to allow some thinking,
rested them for their own good,
clasped them in contented resignation to
the One who planned his path.
With these, he also trained himself
to address an unknown enemy
whose misguided heart is bent,
starved for sacrificial deaths
and thus ironically, these days,
he carries weapon to stop war's blinding bleed.
With these, today he gripped the wheel of his Humvee
as he rushed comrads and first aid
to another market bombing,
then stepped out directly on an IED.
As dirt and metal fragments settled,
choruses of screams and shouts erupted,
I charged the smoke and flame to pull him out of there;
with rescue spelled in ticking seconds,
whitened by the falling dust, I froze,
and as a ghostly statue,
stared across a charred and steaming earth where
in the sand, the only thing God left us with
were the still, warm and open palms
of Tommy's hands.

Copyright (c) 2008 Gary Brown
Riding The Clock

When God hired Nebuchadnezzar's buddy, Nebuzaradan,

to clean His house, this brutal fellow had no clue who
sent him there or signed his checks.
A Love that toys with human minds who cannot grasp it,
flings out discipline to rescue children from their own profanity;
severs the masochistic limbs they use to flog and soothe themselves.
Through the brawn of circumstance and such thugs' ugly fists,
God bends their hearts behind their backs until they scream for more.
Most lovingly, He peels their eyes and steals their tears
and when the time is only right,
when the moment has been stretched across their gasps for air
and as they fall and in death, stare,
He closes up His hand around them,
smothers out their blindness, breathes between His fingers,
oils their skins.
Yet, today as then,
few of them will later celebrate that first dawn of the slaughter man,
that invasive, evil agent who only knew to
strap and kill the names writ on his list;
they cannot see him as the hero God employed him as.
Somewhat healed,
they are quickly satisfied to claim their earned redemptions,
line up for their bonus points, and then retrace their bloody steps
back to their killing trees.

Regarding Jeremiah 52:1-30
Copyright (c) 2008 Gary Brown
Technical Foul

Weak of mind, hard of heart, strong of will,
the humans entertained themselves
with selfish games of war.

Jousting with mortality, the frail species,
preoccupied with fear and all its offspring,
practice delicious exercises in extermination.

By rude referee's demand, the fools,
headlong resolved to end their lot,
sit in anger, cursing, from the penalty box.

Copyright (c) 2004 Gary Brown
To Toss a Dog a Bone

She tells of a world where dogs
run in the streets with body parts in their mouths;
its relevance lost on us,
those foreign folks with all their issues;
there are so many of these people
and, of course, we know none of them.
I, do not know them or
their beautiful mystic flowing tongues,
whose musical words dance in my ears
to the beat of love and guns.
I, do not know them with their
tears-turned-fears-to-anger lives,
strapped on body packs, trigger switches,
who pray that God will pay attention
if they kill enough of His enemies,
enough of us, of everyone who scares them.
I, do not know those people who
hover-hold their laughing children
hoping to protect them from the
hoards of human locusts lining up outside to kill them,
somewhere, out there, in the TV,
as if they think they know us.
I, do not even know the friendly woman's radio voice
oozing poetry,
filling up my living room with a soldier's stunning words:
"When I died,
they washed me out of the turret, with a hose";
what am I supposed to do with that?
I, do not know if when
philosophers say of warring people,
"Without imaginations,
they have only the enthusiasts left.",
whom they judge; place in their erudite line of fire.
I, do not know what caused a woman,
someone's loving daughter, wife and mother,
victimized by what she saw,
to enter in her diary,
"Crush the heads of those vicious dogs.",
but I realize she apparently
speaks well for both sides now.

Copyright (c) 2008 Gary Brown