GRAFFITI: FIVE LENTEN POEMS
...No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice/...Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehoods/ Teach us to care and not to care/ Teach us to sit still/...Our peace in His will/...And let my cry come unto Thee. ---T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”
That would have required a lot of fences,
a lot of denuded trunks, fallen trees even.
You would have to stare at backyards
green with revived spring grass, risking
life and limb. “Is this your graffiti? Is it?”
But the three words I stepped on, walking
on the trail, in dotard cadence: Peace, Love:
they were temple bromides. But Voice?
They were sprawled on the grime, like
drunken derelicts, one did not have to look
but be accosted by their urgent demand
on winding asphalt: Peace. Love. Voice.
Like four-letter words, they surprise one
whose habit is to look down in timorous
gait, troubled by daily lust, greed, and lies
dreading mayhem from a gaze at the sky.
Peace. A span of walls for a five-letter word,
perhaps havoc among the mansion lords
writhing in the spasm of murderous oath:
“Let me not catch the spineless vandal!
Or heaven forbid, I will sever both his arms
from his bastard shoulders. No piece spared
among his vile fingers. I will pluck his eyes
from their sockets. Paint “PEACE” with blood
oozing from hollowed holes in his crushed
face, across his torso, down to his dirty groin!”
I wonder at my walk’s anguish over the murder
of children, old women, and decrepit men
in the hovels of Kandahar by a calculating
American Marine, Rambo-like, making a target
practice out of frightened children, burning
their lean-to homes, maybe urinating, too,
on corpses like those cut-up Taliban lined up
by YouTubed U.S. soldiers in nasty whoopee.
Is this hurt, after all, not a misplaced dread
that peace is nothing now but a dying dream?
Love. Like a four-letter word, it could not
have been used nor even abused in Homs
where Syrian fathers, brothers, and armed
kin mowed down children, more children,
dismembered children and all who could not
escape the carnage at Karm el-Zeitoun to call
down a leader beleaguered by an Arab Spring
blazing like fiery poems as flamethrowers.
“Disarm the shabiba* or arm village defenders.
This is our civil war! “As if war could be civil.
As if love were a filthy four-letter word thrown
at the askance who ask: How could you love
your country when you butcher your lovers
and plead for arming your rebels to wage war?
Voice. Ah, the avant-garde call to general
quarters. From a challenging cry of rebellion,
is it perhaps rapidly withering? Voice your pain.
Occupy! Voice your anger. Occupy! Vox populi
Vox Dei. Occupy! Wall Street, Bay Street, or
even streetcars name Desire. Occupy! Occupy!
From the stupor of a languid walk, one recalls
a Via Dolorosa, a lonely wounded walk up
the Hill of Skulls, a golgotha presides over
a cacophony of voices, noises: Crucify! Crucify?
Is this not, somehow, the direst of oxymorons
when the spread-eagled, nailed, pinioned man
counsels love for neighbours? You will be with
me in paradise; forgive them, they know not
what they do. Yet, did he not shout out his pain:
Father, why have you abandoned me? Why?
The people must have their Voice. It is the Voice
of God. Soon, in the British Parliament, learned
voices will argue why the Crucifix should not
be worn on stewardess’s lapels, or civil servants
yearning for the equivalent of a tolerated turban,
or even a recondite dagger, all symbols of faith.
I step on these words graffitied on the sprung
trail. I mutter: Peace, Love, Voice. I did not fall.
He did, got lashed, mocked. Kicked to stand
with his burden, he insisted on loving even
enemies, even those who cried: Crucify Him!
On my quaint walk through a new spring on
Glen Erin trail, I shrugged the lingering cold off
and whispered: Here is my empty heart. Occupy it.
--ALBERT B. CASUGA
*Shabiba --- Government thugs