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Nine - Eleven
Purple clouds rush over us and dank chill
Red October winds oppress a world
Which only yesterday hummed with summer;
Today the tube shows only the broken, jagged, teeth of Empire
jetting upwards through ghostly smoke and debris
as from a skull

Bewildered firemen creep through the hollowed sockets
From which no-thing stares
Skinless bone of fingers scrape the coffin dome
of uncertain skies
with crooked necrotic nails
of last minute's terror

Beneath smoulder multitudes,
the shades of Sheol
Blue with death
Who just that morning
Made their eggs and bagels
And kissed goodbye their other
And worried only water cooler worries...

On the other side of a world
They make for the borders
Tens of thousands wrapped in blankets,
Dirt bucket poor
On donkeys, and on foot, like Joseph and Mary
Nomads in a time forgotten, but there, now
To escape the fiery Apocalypse
Which falls like Hell itself
in flaming Smart-shelled nightmares
Which their mothers never taught them,
Like some horror or fiction which even devils
of themselves cannot conceive
or can they?

I lift my lantern with trembling hand to look for hope
And seek some salve to ease the aching of my heart
Which throbs in pain for all,
Even for the perpetrators,
On both sides,
Who have no doubt,
Who are not capable of doubting
Or spitting back the milk they suckled
At a mother's paps

Jesus! Crucified! God Almighty! Man of Sorrows!
Rejected and left to hungry crows
On bitter wood!
Weep for Jerusalem again
And for us all
For we are still in deepest troubles
And Rachel is still heard wailing
For her children
And she--we--cannot be comforted!


by Stephen Hand


This poem is Copyright 2001 by Stephen Hand


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