Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Kingdom


Tahrir Square, Cairo, Feb 2, 2011     Yannis Behrakis/Reuters




New Kingdom

Bricks of mud and wattle crumble leaving dust,
sand and wind scour the marks of men from stone.
So many years the gods have watched,
doing the nothing that gods do so well.
Now hands that raised the pyramids
fight hands that robbed the tombs,
and Time leaves the old gods behind,
empty in the grave.

They dream what they have always seen;
yesterday pulled across the dusty sky
to tomorrow in the sun’s chariot endlessly racing
while the people, brown and small
work the land, no more to them than clay
ushabtis that serve so their betters can live idle.
The dream is broken; still, the empty dead don’t see.

The world has bought itself new gods,
venal and hungry, with books of laws or checks
and new lists of things forbidden,or compulsory,
who care nothing for the harvest,
who prefer what the world prefers:
that men draw oil from the ground instead of grain,
sow the seeds of war and spill blood as inevitably,
as carelessly as the Nile makes mud.

Now new gods or no gods watch stones 
draw living blood instead of wear dead faces 
or god’s names, watch bricks 
thrown and broken against bone,
and men drunk with power, armored in foreign gold
burning the future, hiding from time.
The preserver becomes the despoiler
and the land bleeds.

They watch, or they don't
but the world watches to see
if Time is the master, unavoidable,
heavy with days, come to
break those weaker than water
who pretend to be gods, and
raise those stronger than clay
who fight the long fight to be free.



February 2011





11 comments:

  1. I love it when I read words and get all excited. These are just some of your's that did this for me:

    "Now hands that raised the pyramids
    fight hands that robbed the tombs,"

    yaaaaa xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is a long slippery slope that Mubarak has set his nation on. May them who long for freedom find it in their protest and may we who know of freedom stand with them.

    I would that an Egyptian Mahatma would rise up amongst them and break the yoke that for so many decades has enslaved them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You nailed it ... out of silent tombs of the gods -- and kings -- a present, prescient roar, not from the madness of past crowds but the sanity of a future dream. The Arab street's become a new world ... though it doesn't seem yet anyone knows just what follows rule of god-king-dictator. A networked voice, perhaps, in need of a networked divinity, or rather, cognition. Democracy is so much stronger than state police exactly because its so easy to fail, fall, bleed. It's human-sized.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautiful way to capture the struggle for freedom. The comment above me I think nailed it. Democracy is human-sized and that's what this poem reminds us of.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Joy Ann, very well-expressed struggle for freedom.
    I love this line
    "The preserver becomes the despoiler
    and the land bleeds."
    Pamela

    ReplyDelete
  6. So powerful, Joy! Wowzers! You have nailed it. I found the third stanza especially wonderful,
    "that men draw oil from the land instead of grain". I was electrified by your final stanza, and the fight to be free.

    Whew!Great writing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmm this place is becoming very familiar. I wonder if there is a real place that:

    'The world has bought itself new gods,
    venal and hungry, with books of laws or checks
    and new lists of things forbidden,or compulsory,
    who care nothing for the harvest,
    who prefer what the world prefers:
    that men draw oil from the ground instead of grain,
    sow the seeds of war and spill blood as inevitably,
    as carelessly as the Nile makes mud.

    Now new gods or no gods watch stones
    draw living blood instead of wear dead faces
    or god’s names, watch bricks
    thrown and broken against bone,
    and men drunk with power, armored in foreign gold
    burning the future, hiding from time.
    The preserver becomes the despoiler
    and the land bleeds.'

    I'm loving the satirical nature of your writing

    ReplyDelete
  8. Since everyone is picking . . .

    "doing the nothing that gods do so well"

    Freaking brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love "burning the future, hiding from time."

    Every night I turn on the Nightly News to see what's happened in Egypt that day.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Political poems are almost oxymorons, but you find the space here. It lead me to write my own today. Sometimes the inner world just can't escape the outer one. -- Brendan

    ReplyDelete
  11. @blueoran : Yes, very true. They're difficult to write sometimes, but I think it's important to do so. I found your piece very insightful.

    ReplyDelete

'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg