All brave words pale to whimpered, mewling sighs;
great structures crumble to their timber’s dust;
aged soldiers’ shouts turn into babies’ cries,
their heroism’s bread gnawed to the crust.
Proud governments dissemble into gangs;
philosophers’ grand speeches become babbles;
elaborate costumes rot where they hang;
the wise assembly reverts to mere rabble.
And what event precipitates this fall,
what monumental shift in time and space
wreaks havoc on the known, destroying all
to leave in Beauty’s stead a gruesome face —
some wild disruption in the cosmic scheming
that causes misalignment of the spheres?
a moment where the gods cease from their dreaming
and we are left alone when the mist clears?
What then? If our own actions make the future,
with no unseen, omnipotent control,
no divine surgeon to tie off the sutures
and seal the wounds we’ve rendered on the whole;
if we alone, frail humankind, have wandered
so far beyond our role, through pride and greed,
that any promise due us we have squandered
and have no promised land, no guarantee?
What good religions, if they do not teach us
to doubt our own ability to reign
or don’t allow the universe to reach us,
instead instructing to ignore our pain?
All brave words are for naught, if in our bravery
we fail to speak for those whose tongues are dumb;
should our great light cast the whole world in shadow,
what good is knowing whence the morning comes?
23 May 2005