ONE NATION EATING ANOTHER
One nation eating another.
One people eliminating another
like a medieval column of red meat-eating army ants.
The right hand is at war with the left.
Though they both share a common vision
of their dark mother
one eye hates the other.
Is this Cain?
Is this Abel?
One brings meat.
The other brings vegetables to the table.
What kind of God loves one better than the other?
Jesus liked fish
and Muhammad liked dates
and Moses wasn’t into seafood.
Which one do you think smelled sweetest to God?
The Buddha who could get by for a long time on nothing?
Or the fanatical atheists
who don’t care what they eat
as long as it’s secular
not kosher halal or consecrated?
The new Eve theory of evolution says
we all come from
and a thousand mothers
in East Africa
about five and a half million years ago.
She taught us to sweat when we run
so we could hunt animals at noon
when they had to stop
and catch their breath in the shade
or die of heat exhaustion.
Now we can kill anything we want
without breaking a sweat
thanks to civilization.
But we haven’t lost track
of where we came from.
The weapons may have evolved
from stones and bones
to sophisticated nuclear missiles
that can read our minds from space
before we do
but we’re still the same troupe
of rabid baboons with painted asses
we always were.
We’re still throwing things at each other
like diseased body parts
over the Persian walls of a Mongol siege
in a biological war
of cocks and balls like hand grenades
pine-apples and potato-mashers
and rifles with sensitive triggers
and collapsible gun-butts
taking out whole families at a single burst
of a phallic weapon
that eats their children
like a male lion taking over
another carnivore’s source of life.
Ever since Sargon of Agade
introduced imperialism to Mesopotamia
it’s never been enough
just to take their stuff and go back home.
Greed is the mutant norm of hunger.
Power is the vengeful recompense
for sexual incompetence.
It’s important to look at what’s intimate
about cosmic events.
History’s just a screening myth
for a lot of preventable accidents
that came down on their heads
instead of landing on their tails.
O sure the world’s full of good people
as anonymous as oxygen
and as secure in themselves as water.
By their fruits ye shall know them.
Fruits is an old-fashioned word
for market-based commodities
but don’t let the archaic diction fool you
there wouldn’t be any logos in the world today
if it weren’t for this ancient wisdom.
We owe a lot to the people we killed
when they came before us
like genetic pioneers.
This little piggy was chosen.
And this little piggy was not.
And this little piggy thought he was an ubermensh
and goose-stepped all the way home.
The world is the cornerstone
of an insane asylum
having a nervous breakdown.
The raptor’s off its meds.
There are continental fates
like third world nations
in the untimely wombs
of fractured fortune-cookies.
It’s hard to see the stars
because the lights in the windows
are on all night
and no one trusts the darkness anymore
but they’re keeping their distance from us
like one of the freaks of nature
there’s no explanation for
to the auto-extinction
of an intolerable species.
We’ve grown so bright in our blazing
in our own eyes
we blind the light
that opened them in the first place.
The hard bitter medicine of experience
can’t immunize the child
against the loss of its innocence.
When I think of all the people
who have been threshed by the sword in wars
since the birth of civilization
I am stunned by the abyss
of what I want to know
that I will never be able to ask them
all the answers they might have given
like a cure for cancer
and all those personal questions
that can only be asked by friends
when they’re alone
with everyone in their hearts.
They’re picking up the corpses
of scrawny children in the dawn
like dead starfish
out of their element
and stacking them like cordwood
in the deathcarts that creak
through the backalleys of Calcutta.
Usama bin Ladin
is the reincarnation
of the Old Man of the Mountain
Ogadai and his Mongol hordes
destroyeed in Iran
seven centuries ago
when the assassins
got higher than Al Qaeda
on Afghani poppies
supple as the dancing girls
that keep temptation alive in heaven.
But the worst sin
is to kill people
in the name
of an uninhabitable idea.
The terrorists bow to Allah
in the direction of Mars
is not a racial disinfectant.
The Christians cherish Christ’s wounds
and worship him like scars.
The Jews return home
to Armageddon in Megiddo
and the blue-eyed Texas Bible Belt
anticipates the Last Judgment
that will wipe everybody out
at the Second Coming
because the first didn’t work out so well
like birds that don’t sing in a eucalyptus
because all the bees and beetles and butterflies
that used to tend the blossoms
in the orange groves of their grandfathers
have been eradicated
from the tree of life
like Palestinian villages
that couldn’t adapt
to Israeli bulldozers
whenever a child threw
a stone at a tank
like David at Goliath
three thousand years earlier.
The unified field theory
the oneness of being human
the equality of women
the face you see revealed
wherever you turn
behind the veils of Isis
and the ineffability of God
is the tauhid of Islam
that has no simulacrum
you can check like a passport.
The minute you say anything about God
she’s the subject of racial profiling.
If she looks like a human
she must be a threat.
The personal history of ignorance
is a private library in a morgue
no one’s had time to read yet.
Data’s not the same thing to knowledge
as a cell is to life
or a star to a galaxy.
What you can see
knows less about the light
than what you can’t.
And getting to know what you can’t
And wisdom is space.
And space is the ultimate insight.
But nearly fifty years of writing like this
about the world’s horrors
trying to balance
the enormity of my cosmic rage
at a tiny planet
against the little I know of compassion
and I’d have to say from the very first
except it’s gotten worse.
I’ve always been stunned
by New England asters
in late September
growing by the sides of long dusty roads
I never mean to come back to
but when I walk over
to take a closer look
just for old time’s sake
I always see the blood of helpless children
splashed all over them.
It kills the mystic in me
stone cold dead
and makes even looking at flowers
a self-indulgence of mine
they can’t afford.
I look at the stars
and even they seem
like a waste of time
for all the years they’ve been shining
indifferently down on nothing
looking for something to relate to.
I look at life
and those of my friends
and those of others just like me
all through history
living on the other side of the street
in the slums of Karachi
in the migrating herds of people
who are hunted like refugees
by rapacious crocodiles waiting in the river
between them and the greener pastures up ahead
after they’re dead and rotten
and the names of their children are said
because they were born
or the Democratic Republic of Congo
as if they were already forgotten
just a moment ago.
I look at the planet
as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin did
and see a sphere of mind enveloping it
like an atmosphere around a marble of starmud
and sense the planet’s waking up to us
like dead brain cells
that couldn’t quite get
the knack of conciousness.
I look at the squalor the ignorance
the starving the torment the war
the atrocities the chaos and destruction
the victims of reptilian viciousness
perpetrating horrors on the innocent
that make you feel
God may be dead
but the demonic’s lost
none of its appeal
to the ghouls around his deathbed.
And I see how much less than insignificant I am
in the grand scheme of things
like a bad dream I can’t wake up from
to do anything more than scream murder
when murder’s being done
to the children
and the people they love
and who love them.
I’m good with words
and I’ve got an excellent education
but that’s where it ends.
I might make a good fire-alarm
lighthouse or air-raid siren
in another life
but in this one
I look upon all those who are dead
because of our lies greed and corruption
because never have so many died
in the course of human endeavour
to feed so few
I never go to bed
I’m forsaking someone somewhere
who could have used my help
if I were a different kind of person
than this one
who is so defamed in his own eyes
by the hungry accusing innocence of the dead
until my heart starts breaking
and a soothing compassionate half-defeated voice
arises like a battered angel
from under the hard stone
where three-quarters of the world
rests its head tonight on a tormented planet
and lays a cool herb of moonlight on my forehead
if your heart is breaking
let’s hope it’s bread.