Happy Holiday Thinking

Do you think of the person who looks for a place to lay his head,
Wondering where he’ll get his next piece of bread?
Who finds a place to curl up against the cold winter’s night
Only to be told to move when he has nowhere to go,
Except maybe six feet below?
Or the little girl who whirls around from alleyway to alleyway
Trying to find someone who cares but only ends up
With some pervert that binds her behind locked door?
Do you consider the old woman with shopping cart
Who makes dumpsters her grocery mart?
Or the wandering band from a foreign land
They used to call home?
Or the shell-shocked children of Gaza
Who search for toys among rock and rubble plazas?
Do you think oils spills that poison drinking water
Or the mountain of bills the poor cannot afford to pay?
Or the bullets that kill amidst the shrill screams of war?
Or the ill who have no medical care
Because they cannot bear the cost?
Or the man lost in his own world without hope of escape?
Or blackened drapes, sour grapes, formless shapes,
And untold rapes?
Say, what do you think when you blink your eyes at the world?
Before you say ‘happy holidays,’ think and sink into reality . . .
* * * * * * * *
Do you consider the person who looks for a place to lay his head,
Wondering where he’ll get his next piece of bread?

Lions and Lambs: A Daydream of Peace

Nine soldiers among the burning pines
Sing songs of war to bring terror to the terrorized
In occupied territory in retaliatory mode
Which bodes ill for the already-oppressed
Possessed by fear and crying tears for mercy;
But the nine are suddenly cut off from their unit
And hit by the sudden realization
That they cannot return to their civilization,
And they are surrounded now by the sounds
Of the persecuted, who move slowly in wonder
While the soldiers blunder here and there
Pointing their rifles round about determined
To fight before they die . . . but their guns jam!
And they cannot so much as telegram for any help!
Suddenly seized with fear they hear the mumbling
Of the crowd of “enemies” now gathered round
And believe they are bound
To be beaten and eaten alive . . .
But one child, meek and mild, steps forward
With flask of water in hand and stretches it forward
Toward one of the soldiers saying, “Take, drink . . .”
And the soldier knows not what to think;
All nine are shocked that they are not even mocked;
No, but one by one the oppressed step forward
With open arms . . . “How may we help you, children?”
They intend no harm and the nine no longer alarmed;
In that instance, the lambs save the lions
With no shame pretense, only genuine peace . . .
Only genuine love and peace . . .
Could it be so? Oh God, make it so, make it so!

Spilled Blood: Requiem for Innocence (Collaboration)

Shots ring out in the night sky, and once again so we say goodbye;
Spirits of hatred haunt and taunt lovers of peace, who never cease
To lift the torch of understanding without reprimanding the outcasts,
Who are ever marginalized, demonized, and unfairly, vilely despised.

In a world of different faiths, no god of love and life embodies such an act of hate
An evil against humanity itself, by humans considered as monsters
Though human nevertheless, born first out of love
A light still shines from above as hearts are darkened for the fallen

Blood runs deep through the streets as hearts bear the pain;
Has the whole world gone insane? Is this the bane of our existence?
Are we condemned to condemn what we do not understand?
Are we doomed to take the bait of animosity to satiate blood lust?

Questions upon questions, the answers get lost in the chaos
After we rebuild ourselves from the grief, we must stand against these atrocities;
We must stand against ignorance, hatred, injustice;
We must stand for our mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers.

Note: This is by far one of my most potent, heart-wrenching collaborations to date (which is not to disparage my others!) And I am deeply grateful to Josslyn Rae Turner for affording me the privilege of working with me on this provocative poem. She was most gracious, and an astute, talented partner.