March 22, 2007

A Poem for the Innocents

A Poem for the Innocents

A killing moon peeks through leaves

of the trumpet trees in full bloom

for Lent, their barks still scarred

by the wild strokes of a machete

when my son tried to help me weed

our garden, overrun with dandelions,

carpeted with petals, a bounty of seed

and thorns, side by side, under clusters

of suns bursting through the branches.

Shadows flicker across the wall

over Buzz Lightyear’s grin, Mr. Potato

Head’s sigh, a collection of cards

and Harry Potter books under a map

dotted with the cities that fill his dreams.

What promises will I make

when I climb the stairs before

he falls asleep to the noise

of the television with cluster

bombs blooming in the sky

over Baghdad? What comfort

can I give him as I draw the sheets

over his shoulders, kiss his forehead,

when he worries that if he closes his eyes,

his aunt, Batsheva, half a world away,

will not rise from her bed in Gan Yavne,

thirty-seven miles west of Ramah

where Rachel wept for her children

because they were dead

and refused to be comforted--

who could stop her tears?

The map over his bed frightens him,

and I cannot convince my son

despite the miles and miles of oceans

and deserts that the machete he has hidden

under his bed will not make him safer,

any more than the sacrifice of innocents

will save us, for he knows,

he knows, somewhere

between the Tigris and Euphrates,

a wave of steel races toward Babylon.

March 22, 2003



Rethabile said...

Awesome! It's like you went into my brain and ruffled among my neurons.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Thanks, Rethabile.
See you tomorrow with the meme!

Rethabile said...

May I borrow this one and (1) post it on Poéfrika and (2) list it as poem of the week (for week 12)?

If not this one, then the dancing couple poem (Global Voices contest).

Both are magnificent.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Give thanks, Rethabile.
Both are available. In fact, at the stsrt of the war when I first wrote "A Poem for the Innocents," I couldn't get it published anywhere.


Rethabile said...

If I may, I'd love to use both at different times. And the war one for a poem of the week as well. Thank you.

Geoffrey Philp said...

It's yours, my brother.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Beautifully written and very sad too.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Thank you for the compliment, Crafty Green