Sunday, June 07, 2009

356. Kyrie

Softly the sunlight
filters through
the stained-glass
sturdily lead-lined
medieval windows:
the scarlets, ochres, and azures.
A single lambent ray
now falls, no it points
to the altar and the crucifix.

What is this Judean
criminal doing in France?

The Minister says
we need larger newer windows
displaying gallows and guillotines,
gas chambers, electric chairs,
more progressive engines
of State disapproval.
Tear down these old cathedrals!
They are old, he says: put up slabs
of modern democratic concrete,
and let the falling rain and filth
of the coming years
drip and stain like tears
running through mascara.

Jesus bar Joseph
lived before concrete and barbed wire,
son of his father, a carpenter,
yet we never hear if he was any good
(Sothebys: a chair made by Jesus!!!)
But if he was a useless Mama’s boy
why would Simon and Barnabas, fishermen,
hard-bitten seasoned seagoing men,
why would they listen to him?
Maybe J was the proto-union guy
with a sideline in miracles.

Or it could be the job was boring
for this young Palestinian Elvis,
could be that Mom and Dad were a drag.
People happy or resigned to their work,
people like you, for example, or me,
we rarely start up new religions.
Not that he did, no, that came
centuries later. J was just a local Jew,
born into it, went with the territory.

But this boy had a way with words,
spun a number of catchy parables,
improved the quality of wine at weddings,
showed himself to be a catering genius,
and then rose Lazarus from the dead!
Woo! That was something:
there's a story behind that one.

But he’d ticked off the Pharisees,
and annoyed the local authorities.
A downward slope, the end of hope:
always the same old, same old Middle East.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

Rome, like imperial America today
didn’t know WTF was going on
and dispensed with Jesus, politically,
just as Ambassador Lodge was to do,
the Pontius Pilate of Vietnam.

Carpe (Mister) Diem.

Wash, wash, wash your hands,
wash your hands, wash your hands.
Wash, wash, wash your hands,
ear-lie in the morning!

Why do the natives bleed so much,
and make such awful noise?

then as now, means
local myopia.

What did Rome think she was doing?
What does America think he or she or it is doing?

I think it doesn’t know what it’s doing.

We’ll get to that. First we need
to work our way through the Middle Ages.
Why? Because it’s there, it gets in the way.

Stunted people, right little shortarses,
Popes and Kings and peasants,
a thousand years of lamentable hygiene,
protracted physical and mental torture:

Well, that should do it.

The world that we know and live in
is formed of myths and the nonsense of the past.
We have learned so little, and we seem intent
on creating even more lurid stark scenarios
to make our transience seem important.

We have become a widescreen stereo movie.

I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a good one
with a little understatement, wit and intelligence,
instead of all the bombast and the bomb blasts,
the adolescent violence, the lust disguised as romance,
but it isn’t. Now smoothtalking TV politicians
indolently, inexpertly, steer the speeding ship
into patiently waiting icebergs.