POEM: Contents & Discontents


If the seer vows to be the spear that bleed
Let it be known that I was peaceful, for I heed
What was passed down way before
He wed Understanding; munched his first desert lore,
The oracle lives and exudes untainted noesis
To guide and guard slaves from Sibyl’s lies
And enveloped are the faithful from Iblis omens.

But wherefore must I cease my relentless denial?
Surely the voice of Al-Masad hails
May the hands of Abu Lahab perish; doomed he is
His wealth and his gains shall not avail him
He shall be plunged into a flaming fire
And his wife; the carrier of firewood
Shall have a rope of palm fiber round her neck.

Terse as the words were, they were but satire
Derided, pained by counter punches from kinsmen
Their coiner was thought contemptible and deserved not
Obedience, nor acceptance of his revelations
Nor did they seek to desert Al-Uzza and Al-Alat
Nor part ways with the jinns they bathed with veneration
But for this derision, it was written that:

The brightness of Fate awaits their works
And just like the people of Al-Feel
Their treacherous plans will be shot to futility
And birds sent forth to ravage their lands
And pelt them with stones of sand and clay
Till they become like devoured dry leaves
For Punishment awaits those who harken not.

***

But, if the raunchy Sunday mass is the will of God
The redeemer, the silent one: then my pod
Of Knowledge is a somber farce of purity
Vaulted, protected from imminent heist
Hidden from vulgar gaze of the priest
Weeded of evil, held close in cluster;
Shield from boastful platitudes of my pastor.

Neither will I be party to chaos in the name of prayers
But solemnly under my roof, peaceably bow and revere
Neither should my voice be heard, by man’s ears
For my tears flow like blood, and my soul sears.
Not by man, intent to judge the verbosity of my pleas,
Sometimes absurd; for my vows are a union seal
Reverberating through ether to eternal ears.

But the Primal Cause; whose long shadows shower
And engrave holy intents in the hearts of the wise
Lies in sleep, awake at disintegrating nature.
Where is Moses: the umbrella, the great civilizer?
Whose laws carved on stone, were few and legible
Ten bright stars that shot lasers at graven images!
Stillness! Stillness crushes my inquiries to pulp.

And so, like a fly’s tireless wings past fumigant clouds;
I baulk and scud past vain clothes of the church
Not tire in relentless esteem for falsified holographs.
The dogma; neat scripts of spiritual strabismus
Are but clouds of deceit to piercing eyes.
Nor are they beads of peace, but droplets of anger
Fueled by voices of discord in the belly of basilica.

***

But, if Vishnu be made of stone, however aged in time
Let it be known that He remains invisible to me:
My inner eyes see me, and see a part of him.
All these years gone by, I never saw the whole of him
Precious as stone may be, it can never be Supreme.
To bow while my mind sees, infects my tongue
And foxes my eyes to venerate the works of man.

Myrrh cold on nostrils, whiff like incantations
Accompany bemused orations of reverence, but
Neither minarets nor domes will to oil the barren past.
Are they royal tombs, these pyramidal heights?
But like in catacombs, soundless yawls
Mask questions with bands of arrogance
Till they are obscured like saints denuded of superstition.

Mute and confused, pearls mark the sea lanes to the East
But where is this land hidden in the district of Mathurā
Where resides happiness: Goloka Vrndāvana
O Universal form! Where are the footprints of Brahman?
O Chastiser of enemies! Why are my hands chained?
Can I shed off human self and damn the entreats
Of desire: of tongue, belly, and genitals?

Now when I’ll don new garments and cast off old self
Will I scorch like miscreant souls, before Yama?
For culture bombed, neither has my tongue tasted prasāda
Nor am I freed by birth roots to marvel in these desserts.
Contumacious and wasted, my inner peace is a guest, and so
Formed of mere dust I envy the stars: marvelous diamonds
Strolling at ease protected from emissaries of darkness.

***

Vultures aghast at broken tablets, gather
And bathe their feet in ash; Glory is gone.
The evil prosper, delightful are their pleasures,
But trodden are the good; crushed like potters’ vessels.
Where is He who dwells in Zion:
A poet’s halcyon of peace, diamonds, and tease?
Silence is the song; the song of forbearance,
That accompanies scattered bones to shrines.
Insensible, prayers are! For the cosmos speaks not
To shreds of nature’s shroud, demented.

Where is the way for unsteady feet?
Where is honey for the doubtful tongue?
Where is rest for the hunter home from the hills?
Straight is the way of the tabernacle,
Free are the waiting seats all clad in snow
Lustrous rays virgin like the purity of swords
Are directions healing nature’s woes
And from mountains, suns, cows – his abodes:
Flow energies of renewal, till denuded they become
Of undying light; glowing in the souls of servants.

Bid me to drink from these fissures of Strength
Unknown to waking beings, walking lost.
Bid me to look to the sky for the blinking star
Whose tentacles scrawl on the forgotten scrolls.
Bid me to journey in the paths of the Pure
Though slaves we are; faithless slaves of eternity’s eye
Chained like the dead, but bid me O Master!
To row these boats of Motion, enlivened
To hang onto the wings of Time, and sojourn like stars
Haunted to forever map the emptiness of Space.

Pentateuch furled, burns amidst vile profligates
Jove’s incensed, offending humankind blind
With frailty dine: seawards are remnants of Reason.
Verily, verily! Consult that you may cognize
The potter’s skills from the weaver’s craft
The river’s length from the sea’s depth.
Cease not to worry till Peace is won;
And the crosswalk beams with eternal lights
Only then shall the feet, in Understanding
Shake off the dust of Ignorance, evermore!

Now, as the hour of Promise draws close
When the heavens will be cleft asunder
The earth shall shake off her burdens
Stars shall scatter and oceans explode
And graves shall give up their dead –
Hurled like flowers in desert storms!
A horrid vision it will be; of pale sinners deaf
To the hail of trumpets, bowing to decays of filth
On that fateful tiding, will I harvest Glory?
Or like slanderous folk cry, “would that I were dust!”

Richard Oduor (c)2010

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