Every day, I pray to achieve enlightenment in order to help others likewise achieve enlightenment by recognizing the illusions caused by hatred, jealousy, greed, and ignorance. Those poisons must be cured, in each person, by the antidotes of compassion, patience, generosity, and love in order to create a peaceful world. These antidotes manifest in action.
Last week, events in Lebanon made headline news and this morning I found a poem I wrote twenty-nine years ago. You can change Lebanon to Afghanistan, Sudan, Palestine, Chicago, or any prison – just a few of the places in the world continuing to suffer the cycle of violence. This poem will not end brutality but it serves to remind me of why I do spiritual practice, sign every petition and letter — to end war, to control guns, to protect the innocent — and support organizations like Amnesty International. My efforts are small but in my lifetime I have seen individuals of conscious – from Nelson Mandala to Aung San Suu Kyi, to Mala Yousafzai – through their courage make millions of lives better. Their examples press me to do more. Now, all I can offer is this poem.
After the Lebanon Reading – March 5, 1983
Not that this is a poem
take the I out of this statement
step into a charade of something else
the smell of you is blood on your hands
you killed my baby.
(Have mercy on these hungry jinns
roaming still this earth
with cunning and destruction?)
I weep no more for your child lost there
than tears beyond grief for my child here
dropped in the gutter.
Could each of these words
give life to those souls
drying before they left the womb?
During that time of war and slaughter
I smoked hashish.
The seller said, “From Lebanon.”
I asked, “How did they get it out?”
Was the slaughter for the drugs?
Who will be bold enough to step forward
“See, the emperor is naked.”
Seagulls glide over the pyramids of the ghetto
poets ponder permitting their breaths to continue
or question turning totally to “their God.”
“May your God go with you,” he said
and we didn’t watch much TV film footage
of that carnage.
Even though one night
in my customary solitude
a flood of tears ripped through my body
draining me like a hurricane wind
battering a wooden house.
Yes, I cried for the deaths of the innocent in Lebanon.
But we, especially I wrapped in the rainbow
of a love as real yet
ephemeral as the pot of gold –
with he – the greatest – concerned ourselves
with the continuing plight of our
African children crying alone
and hungry in the night.
Do not wait for the next massacre manifestation
to cast conscious contemplation
upon current continuing conditions.
Turn inward outward left right
social commune capital
Christ Rasta Jew Muslim
Be as what will be
Eternal welcomed me
on a spring day in ’83.
Yes, tears forever flow
like children born do grow
to die in the embers
of forgotten days
and stolen moments.
again again and again.
No this is not a poem
these are words without end
or maybe words are just
of the life poem