Friday, October 26, 2007

Destruction Psalms

A searing wind. A trembling leaf
that whispers a destruction psalm.
A roaring like a distant train,
the stealthy footfall of a thief,
the stirring of a weathervane,
a flake of ash falls on your palm.

You saw it on the news: the palms
in silhouette, with upraised leaves
like hands that prayed, but all in vain.
The flames spelled out destruction psalms
across the hills. They ran like thieves
in scarlet, fast as midnight trains.

What follows in disaster’s train:
the desperate hold out their palms
and neighborhoods are stalked by thieves
while honest folk are forced to leave.
The music of destruction psalms
flows from the heart through every vein.

A fallen, melted weathervane
points nowhere north. The bonfire train
whose whistle sang destruction psalms
whose breath burned hot as lit napalm
reduced to ash each living leaf.
Prometheus, you ancient thief

did you foresee this when you thieved
the sun for us? Was it in vain
you saw our promise and believed
that we could learn, we could be trained—
oh, hush now while I fold my palms
and pray some more destruction psalms.

You ask the meaning of these psalms,
but ask the name of him, the thief
who set the fires among the palms.
Cruel, foolish, mad or vain?
The consequences now entrain
as trees unfold to withered leaf.

My veins are cryptic; reading palms
will leave no clues about the thieves
who train us in destruction psalms.

Red Cross disaster relief

6 comments:

Sara said...

"They ran like thieves
in scarlet, fast as midnight trains."

What a scary word image that is. Your poetry is always so tied to the world as it is now. I admire that.

Christine said...

This is fantastic! Very moving, and masterful use of language.

I could quote so many images that stau with me, but this one will have to do:

You saw it on the news: the palms
in silhouette, with upraised leaves

TadMack said...

Disturbing on so many levels -- palms raised, psalms racing, prayers in vain... so spot on "now."

Rhian said...

I can't even pick out favorite lines or stanza because this entire poem is so freaking brilliant. This is actually quite appropriate doncha think for the spooky poem train run? unsettling and shivery, making the inner eye blink awake...

STAK said...

This is intense.....the repeated use of keys words makes this one strike like a very large hammer........good stuff....

julia said...

"The flames spelled out destruction psalms
across the hills. They ran like thieves
in scarlet, fast as midnight trains."

Goosepimply scary image. The whole poem is so well-crafted. Love the repetition of 'palms/psalms', 'thief' and 'train'.