Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Another poem on Terri

From my good friend, Joseph O'Brien, assistant editor at The Catholic Times, newspaper for the Diocese of La Crosse. He wrote this a few years ago when the story first broke and has kept it updated.

- for Terri Schiavo

It won’t take long for the flash of false mercy to do its work
On flesh, momentarily reflected on stainless steel,
The maculate evil of vain hearts. Judge:

The devils decamped and capering that pierce the darkness
Of noonday – the evil that clusters like wasps stinging
Fallen apples’ rotten flesh. Legislate:

The evil that musters itself, rank and petty,
En masse, pricking along the eastern path of night.

The evil with breath hot and straining through tiny slits
In the state’s official mask, affixed, a nice, bored expression
That holds all and sways with cold law,

Whispering in easy assassination, the good death is always best...
A point of law, a point of pride. No, it won’t take long
To understand the starvation of stars at dawn

(At daybreak the stars begin to disappear, dehydrated spittle
At a mouth’s cracked corners, the blood-flecked rim
Of tomorrow’s horizon):

The birthday of death – row and wade through it: here,
A grim world, death of innocence, emergence
In time for time’s divorce and destruction –

In predatory moments, a lone hill
Riding out noontime on a heat wave,
A voyage with mirage for destination,

A bark without pilot or command,
Triple-masted, naked, trolling the air,
Sparred without sails, lookout’s flesh

Nailed to itself as if in love with the world
It’s vessel has made passage through.
It clings to a makeshift crows’ nest,

Its gaze narrowing for new land,
And dimming in its view of the old:
O Jerusalem!

Counting all down, down to earth, earth
Beneath its own heavy lidded eyes, centuries of inhumanity
In humanity’s quivering, drooling, incomprehensibly tender face.

“No more!” said heaven. Cobalt punctures our eyes.
Pang of the ordinary. And creation answered back: “Wake…sleep.”
But who could see that it was good?

Meanwhile, no one should talk. Rather, be quiet
As cicada’s day is quiet. This day, the air is grey as rat’s hair
And the moon is lodged in the sky at midday,

A cat’s eye chasing away with a single pale blue glance
The last precedent of courage shadowed by the helpless inching of hours
And a fear that quickly quiets without calm.

The long needle of silence – the principle sleep – the dead clock’s single truth –
A new ally of law. It doesn’t take long to consider it done.
Judge. Legislate. Execute.

Not at all.

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