War Poem in our Time of Madness
At the hour when it seems we’re about to send more troops to die, and the madmen at the wheel of the Ship of…
The Name of God came haunting down the hall
and dazzled all our eyes and ears and
hearts, and made us
swoon into this hard physical life,
and we’ll be wakened and called back
and then we’ll leave this world as
things departing from shadows
leave their shadows in heaps like
old clothes at the
through which we’ll all depart to go back to that
chanting school, those corridors of
pure reverberation through
pine woods, mountain cloud, egrets hovering in an
updraft, sunlight on
rock, sun twinkle on
stream gush, that exquisite
Name of God again, repeated by God’s own
speech on the tongue of everything.
The Name of God foghorns
out at sea where
blackened darkness deepens within darkness.
The Name of God suspended in amoebas hovering just below
the surface tension of a moonlit lake.
The Name of God in the first movements of an eaglet inside its
high shell on a cliff beaten by
wind, its brother and sister eaglets
starting to stretch inside
their shells at exactly the
The Name of God in the high wind beating against them.
The Name of God in rigging out at sea
the high wind beats against.
The Name of God in the audible beats that
accompany the wind, in the
silent beats as well as the
ones sounded out, the lapping as well as the
silence as the sea recedes.
Laughter followed by the silence of death.
The Name of God in them both.
And who hears the Divine Name being
recited over and over with each
pump of our blood through the
Tunnels of Love of our veins? Each
drip of ice water off a glacier into a
pool so translucently clear
the entire sky of the world is reflected
with all its gnats and all its
migrating birds? Who
hears on the tip of its tongue the Name of God being
told? The first shift of
glance of a newborn, and
no sharp sound was made?
The doctor leaning in with his
stethoscope is the Divine Name’s
heavenly P.A. system into his
own ears from every pulse he hears?
The billionaire leaning closer in to his
telephone receiver in penthouse
solarium as the deal is
clinched, who hears the Name of God so clearly
spoken, but may
mistake it for a sum?
The baseball outfielder who hears it as the
ball zooms by, or the thunk of it
into his mitt?
The chipmunk who hears it as an acorn
falls from highest oak
branches into his paws?
The mud slide in Venezuela heard by the
shocked villagers below?
The butterfly’s flight pattern as God’s Name on a
breeze shifts ever-so-slightly to the
Entire populations as they scurry to their jobs?
Entire populations of underwater denizens
as the natural booms and creakings in the
resound in their bones?
A single diamond miner as his axe slips
uncovering a gleam?
An ancient derelict who positions her head on her
pile of rags and slips into dream?
She hears it. It
reaches to the bottom of her toes.
It leaves no stone unturned.
Audible by all,
it takes no prisoners. It’s
audible now, cricket in the
silent center of night, cricket out
in the night
10/7/97 (from Chants for the Beauty Feast)