I can clearly sense your utter despair of Der Matratzengruft*
As you valiantly carried on your poetic works to the very end.
This did not change your literary accomplishments well-known,
And your courage through the misery and morphine* is undeniable.
Your lyrical poetry speaks volumes among all of German literature,
And it was most marvelously set to music by the likes of Schumann,
Schubert, Silcher, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Strauss—to name a few.
Their melodic tones as applied to your verses then, now live on forever!
Your role in and principal contributions to Romanticism fall in line
With the highest quality of your poetic language and its intention.
Your role in battling early nineteenth-century censorship in Prussia set
You out front of many of your contemporaries who resisted much less.
It’s so tragic Herr Heine that your literary resistance so prominent in
Challenging Prussian censorship would make you ever so more noted,
And besmirched as the Nazis in 1933 burned your books and those of
Other German scholars as a reflection of their insane and twisted beliefs!
It’s with great irony indeed that the banning and burning of your works by
The Nazis was parodied further by them as they ignobly quoted and used
Your famous line from “Almansor,”* when you likened that “where books
Are burned, in the end people will be burned too.” We know what they did!
And so, with both honor and sadness I do understand the very cry of lament
From the confines of your mattress-grave about your final exquisite poetry,
Written through writhing pain and tears as you faced the end of your life.
It took great courage to face your end like this while staying true to your Muse!
Gary Bateman, Copyright © All Rights Reserved (December 15, 2014)
(Narrative Quatrain poetic format)
*Der Matratzengruft from the German means “The Mattress-Grave.”
(Heinrich Heine was confined to his bed, his “mattress-grave,” in 1848
with various illnesses until his eventual death eight years later in 1856.)
*Heine poetically referred to his pain predicament in the poem “Morphine,”
written near the end of his life, when he noted in two famous verses:
“Gut is der Schlaf, der Tod ist besser—freilich / Das beste waere, nie
Geboren sein.” (In English: “Sleep is good, Death is better—of course, /
Best of all would be never to have been born.”)
*Almansor was a play written by Heine in 1821 that had a most famous
line in German: “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Buecher verbrennt,
verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.” (Rendered in English: “That was
but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as
well.”) The significance here is that as the Nazis burned the books of Heine
and other German artists on the Opernplatz in Berlin in 1933, they actually
celebrated this event by “engraving” Heine’s famous words from “Almansor”
in the ground at the Opernplatz site. The obvious depravity of this terrible
event reflects the innate cruelty, stupidity and evil of the Nazis as they
burned the books and defiled the names and reputations of Heine and other
famous German writers. Their actions were monstrous and shameful, and
were indicative of mankind’s base instincts at their very worst. Moreover,
despite converting to Protestantism from Judaism in 1825, Heine’s Jewish
origins played a continuing presence in his life and were one of the major
factors for his being scapegoated by the Nazis later in 1933. And besides,
the Nazis were always more interested in burning books, rather than
Riding an elephant
Down the narrow trail looking triumphant
Scanning the golden landscape
Like Hannibal with enemies in flight
Sight from a lofty height
King of the jungle moving
With lioness by his side
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Guides by my side with packs on their backs
Some paths steep with rocks
Boots slipping below our tired feet
Beautiful birds in unison flight
Moving with terrestrial light
Stunning sunlight summit on the peak
Praying in an Ethiopian Church
Preserved in rocks built by humans’ hands
Never touched by conquest plans
Protected from the invaders’ footsteps
Queen of Sheba and Solomon’s nest
Touched by Arch of the Covenant
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus once slept
Eating yam, sipping palm wine, and tasting milk
Freshly squeezed by experienced hands
Taste of life in the mosaic grassland
Sustaining and soul refreshing
Cradle of humankind adorning
Invaded for its gold, riches, and human capacity
Birth of life on earth with tenacity
Respecting its living and arduous journey
Essence of life once was and is again to come
Riding a camel across the hot Sahara sand
Once wet now dried, exported gold from Mali…
Treasures from the hearts of once African empires
That which was, is, and shall forever be
Africa the birthing Motherland
We still love and respect thee!
Seventh Place Winner
"African's Pride" Poetry Contest
Sponsored by Adeleke Adeite
June 30, 2010
Once upon a time, many years ago,
There was a sweet and lovely - red, red Irish rose,
That was plucked prematurely, from the garden vine;
A budding beauty, taken in her prime.
She was laid to rest, upon the death, of a lovers dream;
Upon a chest of ebony, where lie, his would-be Queen;
Lowered deep into the depths, of the church yard cemetery;
Her scarlet petals, wilting in the summer breeze.
Then the earth begin to fall, like autumn leaves;
Upon her petals, and the chest of ebony,
From above her tomb, where stood the grieving groom
Weeping , weeping, like a willow tree.
Then the sky begin to disappear, amid that mournful cry,
As tears - from above, fell from that lovers eyes,
And came to rest, like dew drops on that Irish rose,
As she disappeared beneath the earth, there in his grief below
In time, he laid a stone of ivory - upon her grave;
Etched deeply - with the promise he had made:
To love his Irish Rose - forever and a day.
The years and all their seasons came and went
And a million lonely tears were cried and spent
Upon her grave where everyday he kneeled and prayed
And dreamed of her until his dying day.
The epigram has long since faded on the ivory stone
That still stands alone upon her grave
Where from the million tears of love he gave
A seemingly impossible - blue, blue rose has grown.
Written: June 18, 2010
Note: To late for the contest,
but I thought I would post it anyway.
Scientists say it’s just a mirage,
but sailors claim the ghost ship floats
in air, with stormy seas below.
Again he tries to round Cape Hope.
Captain van der Decken angered God
one savage 18th Century night.
Vowed he’d sail till “Judgment Day,”
to cross the Table Bay, he’d fight.
The Flying Dutchman disappeared
sank deep in foggy, wind-swept sea,
but the captain’s doomed to walk the deck
each night in perpetuity.
King George the Fifth, the Prince of Wales
are two who saw the Dutchman.
Although these royal heirs survived,
most meet death -- the captain’s omen.
His curse prevails in Wagner’s Opera
and Washington Irving’s story;
crews tremble, ghost ship emerges
Dutchman floats in frightening glory.
So many sailors and their ships
still meet demise on starless nights,
when demons steer the Dutchman
and a vengeful God reads last rites.
Till this day the Flying Dutchman
looms threatening on a ravaged sea.
For Judgment Day the captain waits,
luring crews to their destiny.
*Entry for the Story Poem contest.
A man with impeccable charm, sophistication and grace,
Fred Astaire was at once both marvelous and enchanting
As the twentieth century’s greatest dancer and master artist.
He made his sublime dancing (“hoofing”) seem effortless.
Capturing the American spirit with both panache and verve
Fred Astaire glided across some quite wonderful movie sets:
Top Hat (1935), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937)
Done magnificently—all harken back to a different America.
This America tho’ more old fashioned was one of “can-do”
And boasted a gutsy bravado even in times great hardship.
Fred Astaire with others was a sturdy star symbol of the then
Greatest Generation that helped bring peace to a war torn world.
Fred Astaire was part of this Greatest Generation entertaining
Packed audiences and dazzling them with steps of joy and perfection.
Tho’ now gone Astaire’s past accomplishments serve as a prologue
For new generations to come and to seize opportunities for greatness.
Where are you Fred Astaire?
Gary Bateman, Copyright © All Rights Reserved, Schoeningen, Germany
(September 2, 2014)
It was in July of 1945
And the USS Indianapolis
Had a crew of nearly 12 hundred alive
But a Japanese sub fired and did not miss
American sailors had completed their job
Delivering parts for the first atomic bomb
Some sank with the ship, others in the sea did bob
No food, few lifeboats, ocean deceptively calm
Surprise attack, no distress signal had been sent
It was four days later those floating were spotted
The survival rate was just 25 percent
With hundreds of sailors’ bodies the sea was dotted
In the movie “Jaws” as Captain Quint had related,
“The sharks came cruisin'. So we formed into tight groups.”
Six men per hour were killed while for help they waited
All were lost but 316 Navy troops
Some victims died of exposure or starvation
But far more were killed by the sharks that had attacked
These men lost their lives in service to our nation
But bomb parts delivered had a deadlier impact
One of the last ships that was sunk in World War II
The Indianapolis had turned the war’s tide
With a mission carried out by a courageous crew
Victory was soon celebrated by allies worldwide
This is an entry for the History Poems contest
A shaman prays, the Spirit hears
While a Seventh Calvary regiment waits
Unarmed, a tribe endures a Union's hate
Their animosities, and their fears
As the blue coats begin to circle...
Their wrath begins to circle.
That shaman saw but a single Spirit
That was split between different beliefs
He could accept the white Spirit Chief
But the white men would not hear it
They would not blend their God
With the red heathen God.
Anger explodes behind powdered shot
Spraying death from muzzled shame
Cruelly winning their ill gotten fame
Painted heroes claim a tainted spot
History claims the Ghost Dance...
As death claims the last dance.
A Dakota creek runs darkly red
Forever silencing the Ghost Dance
A chanting shaman dies in his trance
One hundred fifty Sioux lay dead
Now, only blue coats remain...
Only the blue remain.
A creek ran red with Union shame
When a shaman called the Spirit Great
And that Spirit did not hesitate
He fell on Wounded Knee and came
To take His people home...
His people swiftly home.
Timothy I. Brumley
We live today in a world of great tumult
And of rising uncertainty and anxiety
Which pervade the world stage like a cancer
Despite soaring technological advances
Our environment and our home Earth
Are bearing an unimaginable burden
People are wondering what must be done
To right these wrongs and adjust our course
Before we turn the corner to “No Return”
Tyranny, Poverty, Disease, and War
Are still with us today since the beginning
Of time and are mankind’s greatest shame
God may be with us intellectually
But mankind must be self-reliant
To survive an inattentive, distant deity
People see answers to these enigmas
Sounds are made, echoes are heard
But nothing comes back in response
Frustration reigns supreme for many
Fear and anxiety multiple all concerns
There can never be easy answers
Tyranny still reigns alive in many countries
As the actions of tin-eared dictators abound
And are on ample display for all to see
Poverty is still a shameful, terrible curse
Which afflicts the most unfortunate
And is paid lip service by the wealthy
Disease is a scourge still in our world
And still felt by those most in need
And never enough is done to change this
War is the ultimate insult to mankind
And its wide-felt swath and affliction
Plagues yet our modern, enlightened world
What to make of all these challenges
Is not easy for any of us to digest
And let alone understand why
Yet understand, comprehend we must
If we want a better world for all to live in
A Sisyphean task at its very best
Man still holds the key to make change
Positive and real for our troubled Earth
But can it ever be really so in the end
Gary Bateman, Copyright © All Rights Reserved,
Schoeningen, Germany (October 16, 2014)
(Tercet unrhymed poetic format)
America, why did you stray from the old way.
A constitution put forth, the foundation of our land,
barely recognizable what was originally Jefferson's hand.
Tarnished and smudged by misinterpretation,
overindulgence and greed, to satisfy political,
judicial, and journalistic need.
Once majority rule, now bordering on ridicule,
the law of the land, ever changing, meeting demands,
of whoever takes a stand.
America, why did you stray, parents unable to discipline,
fear children undisciplined now rule, school in chaos,
students unruly, guaranteed to pass, unprepared for their future,
parents unsure, wish for the past, hope the next generation,
won't be like the last.
America, why did you stray, streets used to be a place to play,
neighbors knew one another, socialized every day,
doors left unlocked, nothing to fear, families stayed close,
helped one another, took care of mother.
Now drugs rule the day, hate and crime more common than play,
multiple locks symbolic of today, rarely talk to a stranger,
living in fear; life no longer precious, taken away,
day after day, the bloody count rises, a country in crisis,
victims pay, guilty appeal, courts give them the best deal.
Nobody protests for victims rights, put a murderer to death,
they scream all night.
America, why did you stray, hatred and bigotry alive
and well today, nationalities split, long for the old way,
when an American, was just an American, now hyphenation,
the accepted way.
America, why did you stray, once an industrial giant
you gave it away, too high a standard for industry to pay,
moved out of country, the new American way, unemployment,
poverty, homelessness rapidly increasing, ruined lives,
while billions are spent on so called allies.
America, why did you stray, what's written today,
barely address the wrongs building every day,
religion is accepted, God is not,
country divided, politically split,
presidential bashing provides journalistic wit,
hatred and bigotry, live for it.
America why did you stray, new chapters every day,
really a damn shame.
In this centrifuge of sanctimony
Where I sip the atrophied air of my ancestors
The shipwrecked tide of my unborn children
Angels dangle from a precipice of silence
Strained by strings of a theoretical God
Sung by eyes of defiance
Which navigate the jagged epitaphs below
For that one sediment of salvation
That one moment of submission
Hoping he will see
His wonders, atrocities, his indifference
To cast a shadow of conviction
Over shivering light
Across the inlet where ivory columns crumbled
And modernity now deftly mumbles
Its fleets of fortune baptized
Nigh the bronze dust of golden millennia
Where history lies with its victims
A fugue of fossilized souls
A silent prayer remains
Before morning sun was dressed for the day,
the white noise came and shook the darkness,
like swells swinging ships on the French Passage,
cargo ships before the engine was pulled
from the womb of modernization
Before the day break open the citadel of night,
leaving weak traces of dark shadows in small crevices,
the darkness was crowned with gold and diamonds –
stars gazing on eastern isles
The sand storms came from Arabia
and we walked with our eyes closed
The Atlantic rocked ships like noisy babies,
the white surge broke like whips,
pushing salt in our wounds,
and we prayed to the God we’ve forgotten,
but he must allow our curse to come to pass,
it was written of us
Souls were thrown in the locker,
as we were dragged westward
On rigid eardrums I play this song
It was the first day of the new school year
The children of Beslan had no need to fear
In anticipation they eagerly left home for school
Some walked hand in hand with Mom and Dad
Others skipped along the well known path
Excitement filled the sidewalks and the streets
As fleeting thoughts collided in mid air
Some thought of new friends to be made
Others of old friends with whom to play
A little sister left at home
Of baby brother asleep in his crib
Much too young to run and play
Some favorite lullabies which Grandmama sang
As Grandpapa played his violin
The first day of the new school year
Mothers beamed with such pride
How their little ones had grown
Never would they ever want to let go
Others gave in to their children’s cries
‘Mamma, I do not want to go to school.
May I stay with you today?’
On wings of hate evil had already arrived
With diabolical plans and bombs in hand
To maim and murder the children of Beslan
Who became captives in their little school house
After the dastardly deed was done
Dreams and aspirations lay splattered 'cross the floor
Childhood innocence forever vanished!
On the day of internment the sun in his temple hid
Earth wept pouring rain, her bitter tears
As Mothers’ voices cracked and strained
Cried out loud, their children’s names
While others pleaded in vain for death
Fathers in a state of shock stood stoically in the cold autumn rain
Wearing faces carved in stone
The blood of children cried out to Heaven
Where at the throne of mercy
Sits a God who is just
Though their bodies lay broken in tiny white coffins
On angels' wings their souls did ascend
He will judge all men and their deeds
All, on one appointed day
A tribute to the children of Beslan, No. Ostetia, Russia 9/1-3/ 2004
Through shadowed forest glade she rode
'Midst grey and gloomy chill
No single thought of safety did
A moment stay her will
The mist clung to her nostrils as
She charged into the brush
The creatures of the forest paused
In terrifying hush
Foreboding seeped into her bones
Ghastly, from ages spent
Urging her mount to breakneck speed
Resolve would not relent
To slow would mean downfall into
A consequence of dread
She knew if she but lost an inch
He lover would be dead
This morn she was awakened by
His servant at her door
And with his last breath utterance
Fell bloodied to the floor
It seems a tartan wearing clan
Appeared in red and green
‘Tis true that a more fearful sight
Is rarely ever seen
Unwittingly, they’d crossed the line
Into the Fraser realm
It was then they were set upon
In stand of noble elm
So, now she raced to intercede
Upon her love’s behalf
To beg for mercy from the chief;
That he withhold his wrath
The secret she had hidden would
Surely offset slaughter
It was true she had been born the
Fraser Chieftain’s daughter
She’d fled her home ten years before
With young Lord Cameron
The rival clan’s incumbent heir
Her lover and champion
She’d not been sorry up to now
For following her heart
She knew the toll her love would take
Right from the very start
But this would be a sacrifice
She'd never wished to make
That for his life she would exchange
Hers for the clan to take
Standing together on the upper deck
she clings to my arm, as if I might hold her up…
I am too young for a woman, too old for a child
But I feel so calm, ….strangely so…,
And although she’s older than me, by far
The terror I see in my mistress’s face
brings a sense of surreal, that could bring a smile
if not for the horror surrounding us now
The news of an iceberg had rapidly reached our ears
It spread like fire, from lip to lip
Those ghostly white faces, wild looks of despair
Desperation unfamiliar, to the privileged faces
My aristocratic companions of this ill-fated ship
All through my tender years, as her handmaid, fulfilling her whims
wiping her tears, mending her hems, fixing her tea
laying her clothes, drawing her bath…wondering, wondering
did she know who I am? Did she see beyond, my uniform
The worn out girl,…. the hireling....?
We are near the small boats, only room for one more
Her life jacket, seems so out of place in the crowd
Over her sparkling jewels, the fur-lined coat
But suddenly, she looks so oddly serene
She….removes her fur coat, and wants to exchange
Her fur for my old tweed….I don’t understand….
She slips me the life jacket…and squeezes my hand
Helps me adjust,…..and then quickly pushes….
And into the small boat….I’m crushed with the masses
The last time I see her….she smiles and she waves
For a moment as equals….so boldly brave
She knows what I’d longed for….what I hoped and I dreamed
She knows who I am, she knows and she cares
She is staying aboard, it is too late for her...
And I scream! Oh my God!.....
I can’t hold back my tears..….
Inspired By Tracie's Contest: "My Heart Will Go On and On"
Greet the little King,
who has been born in a cold manger
on the holiest of nights;
and by the glitter of a descending star,
He will spread peace in the land...
follow the shepherds and find that sight!
My gift to Him is my joyful song,
and with this clarinet I will usher in His coming...
walk side by side with the pretty angels and rejoice;
bring Him your gift, and surround Him with joy!
See the three Magi arriving on jewel-draped camels,
holding in their laps the gifts of His destiny.
A winter's night has always been completely bright,
every hill is hidden by darkness, but an heavenly light
appears across the frosty sky of Bethlehem, while divine
voices announce Emmanuel's glorious birth,
everyone wakes up and sees that star and follows it;
and where it stops, they find a baby without a crown.
Greet the Son of the Highest, the Wonderful Redeemer,
whom the Virgin Mary has borne in the humblest of places...
in the small town without a temple, or a palace for the Emperor,
where Mary and Joseph will train their child in Godly ways;
greet the little king, He will smile and invite you in,
and His smile will spread peace beyond the star-lit hill.
Copyright 2009 by Andrew Crisci
Speak, and be heard, let those feelings be set free,
our God given right, I once heard, freedom for you, and me.
Look at the picture, some paint covered in clouds,
isn't it our right, to speak out loud?
History in high school, was taught with pride,
now all those Americans we studied about, have long died.
With them went hope, and a chance of equality,
these are the things they fought for, not selfish greed.
The Pledge of Allegiance we said everyday,
and everyone stood, as the words were said.
The Constitution was studied, and reports were made,
in front of the class the next day, we would stand up, and say.
All our freedoms that were given to us,
now narrowing down, "help," who do we trust.
A prayer was given, with our heads humbly bowed,
using our freedom of speech, we thanked God out loud.
Everything has changed, now we worry about safety in schools,
shootings, perverts, and God was evicted, now Satan rules.
Catawba Joe, a full blooded Crow, married a cute as a button little Eskimo.
She bore him a son who had twelve toes and an elongated nose.
They named their little bouncing bundle of joy Curly Joe Twelve Toes.
After Curly Joe grew up he fought alongside Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
A Mexican shot off Curly Joe’s elongated nose, so Twelve Toes was no mo’.
The Afro-Americans amongst the brave sons of liberty said: “rest in peace bro”.
Literature was pursued
by the greatest individuals who ever lived,
and they left us works of unsurpassable wisdom;
human emotions have always been the same,
and this can't attest to the fact that they will not change anytime soon,
but the freer we are, the further we go up in our balloon.
The richest heritage of Humankind
is found in the written word, which is heard often and not really understood;
where would we be today without the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare that were quite sad,
or Dante's famous canto, not excluding superb works by modern writers?...
During the dark ages, monks translated books from Greek and Latin into common languages;
as the barbarians destroyed everything found in their path, civilization did not end.
Tragedies of famous people attracted the lucrative minds of poets who had heard of them,
thus embellishing them with their vivid imagination and present actual facts...I follow in
their poetic footsteps, writing down stories that have recently happened, or occurred
before I was born; and with ideas as interesting as theirs, I continue in that tradition
without envying their unaging expressions and distinguished style, but by aggrandizing them.
Literature has finally found its merited place in History, unlikely a hundred years ago,
more people are voraciously reading, and keeping the writers busy by admiring
their sensational works, making comments of encouragement to boost up their optimism;
and to theaters they go and spent an entire night to listen to drama and satire...to scoff,
laugh, or cry when emotions intensify by the sconces of the electric lights; and cheering,
they applaud the richest heritage of Humankind on stage, and are captivated by its scenario.
Copyright 2009 by Andrew Crisci
The First Round
You are a pothole that I swerve not to hit.
But you follow my trail endlessly and the sniffing.
When I am cornered I lash and teeth bare menacingly.
We circle each other looking for an opening and claw.
The words make me bleed but ignoring the pain.
The Second Round
Hurling insults and curses the fight searches our past.
I am knocked down from a memory and slowly gain my feet.
I throw a cross at your fears and you stagger with pain.
The referee gives you a standing eight count and the bell sounds.
We sit in our corners and take water and advice.
The Third Round
The crowd roars as we touch gloves and you give me a hook to the body.
I am cut and its deep but the doctor examines me and says I can go on.
The hook brings deep shame and I can't breath and holding the ropes.
My corner knows I can't go on so a white towel comes.
The referee stops the fight and we pay him when we leave.
The next couple are in the lobby sitting waiting for the doctor.
To those who survived
war’s awful tide:
welcome back home.
Remember always that you are not alone.
We who served in earlier conflicts
include you in our daily prayers.
We know the pain you are in
about your buddies who gave their lives
so we can continue to live in freedom’s embrace.
Those who gave their all on foreign fields
are waiting in heaven for those of us
who survived hell on earth
to join them in paradise
where there is no war, no pain, no grief.
We will again some day see our friends
in a glorious place in which happiness and joy
will never ever end. Be proud of your service
to your country and your fellow countrymen.
Your service and sacrifice are appreciated
by those of us who served before you
on foreign fields in far distant lands.
Iranians are Persians,
devil worshipping pythons,
on the highway to Hades.
great aunt, kissed me yesterday
after bidding fond adieu's
to fleeting flashbacks of youth
streaks of invincibility
stiffened her spine when a gentleman came calling
courting her future
a legitimate suitor
awkward member in good standing of the Chicago Fire Department
man unaware of the elements due to generations of Irish breeding
mule, mick, jackass, workhorse, turf-cutter, he responds to all
these stones of rough leathered hands... make him free
to cast a roving eye, flash a quick smile
share a wink with a girl hanging laundry out back to dry
aunt kissed me today, longer
holding on to that sweet floating feeling
that anything might happen and would
when the Holy Trinity cuts her a break
if Paddy can turn the other cheek
oblivious to water that Mary's mother threw off the back porch
onto his only brown suit
onto his pride
onto Halsted Street
bright Sunday morning of June
The triplets had ruse in motion
ascetic, etched from strict culture
preordained her new life of solitude
Paddy, fresh off the boat
wet behind the ears
soaked in shame
never came back
will always kiss
My ancestors came here long ago
Tough and strong not weak
But somewhere down along the line
Something went terribly wrong
And now I have to sit here and deal with my legacy
Of not what I thought it would be
Not where I choose to be right now
The legacy that’s me.
I can’t escape the past
The memories seem to last
Of the horrors of what has come before
The graveyard is the place
I can see it on my face
My family’s legacy of suicide
is haunting me.
My generational legacy
Is it going to kill me
Or will it just let sleeping dogs lie
And allow me to exist
Will it allow me to just to see
The me that I am meant to be
To live beyond my years
To grow beyond the tears
To handle all my fears
To defy what could have been
(November 13, 2010 Wausau, Wisconsin)
(c) Copyright 2010 by Christine A Kysely, All Rights Reserved
General Eisenhower was a man of foresight
General Eisenhower had photographs taken
because he knew that evil is eternal
because he knew that Satan is immortal
because he knew someday some would deny
that it ever happened....
The old woman argued relentlessly, her case.
Resolute, she raved in her conviction;
two thousand and one reasons were there for her to be mad.
Eleven was given to questioning eyes.
It was September,
and Bernice brought home the bourgeois man,
and the two fell
from the pedestal
they held among friends in the big city,
(the city) a melting pot,
now a city in affliction.
Bernice’s brown eyes combed the neighborhood;
two boys, with open arms,
played aero planes;
Across the street,
the rug pilot laughed his ass off
as if mocking the bourgeois man,
and his woman hid her face in rags …,
in degradation –
but her sad eyes openly mourned her son’s suicide.
Grief of that magnitude brings offense,
and the bourgeois man was red with wrath,
and he abhors the old woman
with every inch of his being.
Racism was reversed.
He avowed by God to ruin the rug pilot,
and the people that loved him consented.
Hearts were left to wonder
what makes men so cruel.
The reasons for the old woman’s rant was explicable,
and of the grounds for the revenge
the negros conceded,
in only one instance.
Revenge was foreseeable,
and the spirit breeds more phobias.
For whoever think story telling is that easy,
Would properly from this hilarious incident,
scene or whatever you might call it, would know is not.
Just some couple of months ago, I was invited
by a friend who knows me too well, back then in
school as a funny guy and story teller and so he taught this
night, that his grand pa (who is a famous story teller
of his village) had fall sick, I would be in a better position
to cover up for his father's so called responsibility
to his people. "For he (my friend's father, Williams) is a good story teller.
But what about me who has never faced
the ample crowd with my 'cripple' tale unless sharing it with friends?" I mumbled.
In the middle of this enigma, my friend, John called me to the hot seat
to tell my tale to the unbearable crowd of adolescence.
"God why am I here this day... But it shouldn't have been this day" I retorted.
The barbarian noise from the seats infront of me showed that truly I was
in the middle of something and not lost...
"Uncle tell us a story!... Brother tell us a story!" the crowd shouted.
This day, I needed a free moment but they couldn't let me be.
"Once upon a time" they heard me said and they all resited.
" I am sorry, I am sorry let me restart it all over again".
Now in old man's voice, I told my tale before them:
"Once upon a time,
In our mothers' womb, when she
Ate, we ate. Goodnight!"
They all cannot but burst to laughter while I stood and walked to the room with my
Anything after good night means nothing more till the next day.
Maybe I escaped the night by dissatisfying the emotions of those children,
in that scene, what about my friend?
"Have I not brought shame to John's family? Did I do the
right thing that full moon night?". My heart beats!
Not even do the audience remember or care to ask me: (In kid's voice)
"What if my mother do not eat while in my pregnancy, what will happen to her?" or
probably care to tell me: (Back to old man's voice) "What lesson they have derived from
the tale before their departure... Oh! No sorry, my bashful departure from their sight."
Note: The tale: "Once upon....Goodnight!" is a Haiku form of poetry.
That curious Roman official
named "Lentulus" with foresight recorded
his description of a Man controversial.
And His name too, for prosperity accorded
That Man who the Roman so aspired
was named Jesus, that Man of Awe,
And Lentulus was one of few who desired
that Man Jesus to portray and hence to annals store.
So wont was Lentulus to see and hear
what that Man Jesus preached and said,
That he followed Him for a while, everywhere,
So that the verity of his narration could by all be read,
Then went on to relate what he saw,
A Man of serene composture who courtly stood
and how His prescence the crowds would draw
and hungered the more on the words that inspired good.
Of average height, just on fifteen and a half fists tall
His nut-brown hair smoothed down at the side
forming soft flowing curls, that did fall
to below His shoulders with luxuriant pride,
His beard boasted long and full, the same colour of His hair,
Both His hair and beard neatly parted the middle down,
As with the way that all of Nazarines share,
And on a reddish face not a wrinkle, spot or frown.
His eyes wide set with an unusual capacity for expression
coloured blue-grey, exuding a sadness from within,
Yet cheerful of countenance with seriousness held in remission,
Sometimes seen to weep, not ever to laugh or sing,
Though His feet were bare, He stood regally composed
He lived in troubled times with much woe abound,
For there were those around, who would oppose
Him for the freedom and peace His voice did sound.
Now through what Lentulus and others alike, did relay,
Artists and painters centuries ago, with care
did Jesus to canvas, with dilligence portray,
And His likeness to the world's peoples share,
So that His teachings now so revered
became all the more potent with vision aglared,
For His words of enlightenment can so astound,
But just in His Prescence alone can the Spirit abound.
Ten remain hidden, two thousand years lost.
Two struck down by bullet, gas, and flame; the ghetto stage one.
Six million perished before the world ended this crooked crime
Remanent of those lost rose like the cedar in Lebanon, Ezekiel knew best
Twas God who gave men courage; they fought such tyranny, such hate
Twelve mourned for a season while two given back old land
North and south, east, west flock to come home, a great exodus at hand
Two now settled, secure where they stay; diligently searching for those...
Ten remain hidden, two thousand years lost.
For all of this apparent tragedy in her life, and truly it all only set the stage for my
mother’s soul growth in this experience, what I remember most about my mom is her courage, her compassion and her ever-present service through her Words of Encouragement project that she carried on for the last nearly forty years that she was on this earth. She would collect inspirational writings, sometimes writing her own, and send them to her list of people “in bereavement”. She would volunteer at some local church that would allow her to print copies for mailings. People inspired by her faith would donate envelopes and postage so she could continue mailing Words of Encouragement to people she learned about who were dealing with some kind of difficulty or loss in their life. After she died, we found she had maintained a carefully hand-written log of all the people she sent mailings to over the years. This was her form of “selfless service” and I’m certain that it was her service to others that kept her in the world when it would have been so easy for her to just give up finally.
I learned from my mother that we can pull ourselves out of our depression and self-absorption by turning our gaze outward and giving service in one way or another, how ever it is we can find a way to serve our brother. Even though it appears we have no material worth and nothing at all to give, on some level my mom understood the value and importance of giving encouragement to one another. She faced enormous loss, criticism and complete lack of support throughout her life but, time and time again, she found the courage to rise above, call to Holy Spirit for help, and carry on ... giving whatever she could give, whether it was a place to sleep on her couch for a homeless person, finding a market for handmade crafts created by women in prison, or even if all she could give was a Word of Encouragement.
This is in tribute to my mom, Anne Pauline Theresa Labus King Coker,
February 11, 1928 to April 4, 2002
I’ve a vast store of mem’ries about Chicago
as I’ve lived there for a couple of years
helping out in the parish of many immigrants,
especially Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.
I’ve made friends and a number of them
still continue to correspond by emails;
it’s like a treasure-trove of relationships -
where friendship makes a big difference.
I still remember when I get invitations
from people of other cultures in their homes;
their different cuisines and customs,
a great experience, a wealth of culture.
Chicago’s known for many attractions,
home of architecture with modern skyscraper
the neo-gothic Tribune Tower in the north
along with white Wrigley building in the city;
rich in architectural history, a sight to behold!
Its classic and modern architecture so far,
complements each other in visible terms,
with innovative ideas and creative designs
a special city with marvelous history.
Daniel Burnham, the famed architect,
designed the Merchandise Mart and others
significant to his life like ‘Paris on the Prairie’,
a tapestry of combined art of old and new.
Renowned architects with their respective styles
such as Frank Lloyd Wright and his prairie designs,
Louis Sullivan and his visible ornate facades
Ludwig Miles van der Rohe for modern styles.
Oh, Chicago, known also as the Windy City
so rich in history and its uniqueness too,
the time when a huge fire razed the city
destroyed lovely buildings in 1871.
Well, with the growing skyscrapers in the city
Chicago Spire, for instance, with its 150 stories
designed by a renowned architect Calatrava,
stands as the tallest building in North America.
With the so-called Trump Tower in its 92 stories
and then, Waterview Tower with its 90 stories,
Sears Tower, the skyscraper with its 110 stories,
that’s the only tallest among buildings in the U.S.
Oh well, this is Chicago in the landscape of beauty,
as a windy city, as well as a gateway to reality;
there’s meaning to trace back in history
there’s continuing progress towards this century.