Mark Mealing ≈ Poem

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Christmas, another Way

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It was like this, too
The country going to the dogs
like a soldier
disemboweled & dying on the field
& those damned occupiers
arrogant & rich
with more weapons than anyone else
& think they’re the only ones with rights
their hands in his opened belly gripping at his guts
& worse
our own top people down beside them
Quisling kings & priests,
jackals tearing for what they can get that’s left
& devil take the hindmost
—that’s us
& those damned occupiers
hungry for our wine & oil & trade
wanting to count us & pin us down
to figure taxes to our last starving penny
send us to our happy childhood homes
to chain us by our names
The road’s bad as always & worse this time
the crowd jostling & cursing
on the way to those happy childhood homes
over sand thick with the poison of history
The first one you really see is a woman
a bit of a rebel
a heavier load on her belly than her back
not come by honestly
& stumbling along beside her
the husband
odd in the head perhaps
he doesn’t care where the baby came from
maybe any of a handful of ways
you’d never want to know about it
Back to his happy childhood home
choked with bitter folk who got there first
nobody knows anyone else’s name
& they’ve filled the shabby houses
the man at the hotel
for pity perhaps
for the last coin he can gouge for certain
points them to the stone barn
Among the beasts is good enough for them
where her childbirth shrieking & anxious jabbering
won’t waken real guests
they’ll do well enough
among the beasts so like themselves
dragging their lives from day to day
not knowing or caring what’s to come
Under all that weight
politics & corruption
war for plunder & enslavement
come from a greedy foreign land with too much power
common folk scrapping & scolding just to live
the local collaborators bitter in their own fear
& hope nowhere
She gives birth
an ancient trust deeper in her than her bones
& her husband willing to go along
a baby comes
a soldier’s sword could steal it back tomorrow
comes in the face of all that works to our destruction
defies all that
its life itself being hope & action
& to life the mother answered
Yes
& still nothing has changed
in sands thick with the poison of history
depleted uranium kills you slowly
the occupiers
greedy & arrogant
still crave all the oil & trade they can grasp
with more weapons than anyone else
& thinking they’re the only ones with rights
still break down & slaughter as they please
the Quisling jackals at their sides
still tearing for what they can get that’s left
& even in that former land
promise of milk & honey & peace
by bitter princes & priests
still Ishmael is sent out to die
in desert now ringed close with walls
the occupied become occupiers too
a consequence of occupation
& here
in our own place
even the trees are dying
why are there beggars on the streets?
why have we no homes for the poor?
why is our food priced as if we were at war?
why do we give the sick wretched beds far off
why have we sent men
to kill other men far off?
why are even the trees dying?
Are we not at war?
& the baby invited or not
demands to be born in us
God’s hope & ours
mad hope older than fear & hate
willing to love despite despair
another power
another kind of kingdom
the saving
A child needing to be born
in us now
make us, all things, new

5/12/06

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