Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Song of the Zealot

"The Artist Was Bored No 265", a section from Picasso's 'Guernica', coloured in
© 2016 David Prashker
To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here

     Gratefully I received the sword of Gideon
I stood with my shield against my thigh
 my head fortified
  my heart fortified
my body invested with a duty

I did not speak
 for silence had grown massive on my tongue
  and it would not be subdued

I stood by Ayishah’s bed
 weeping for all the evil in the world
  then conjured a white carnation from the fire
and placed it in my buttonhole

At last I knew my moment had arrived

I kissed the round form of a woman’s breast
 and turned my back on love

(It was better by far that way
          and easier)

I closed the door on a woman’s voice
 the cry that has pursued me ever since
  that I had betrayed love
and in the very name of love


I came to your gates
               O Jerusalem
city of the cloven tongue
     (the face of God reflected
                    turned aside
the sharp blister on the cunning hand
 that has too long wielded the knife
the sword and the wound
the scar and the skin made whole
the flesh-mark and the deep incision
                              O Jerusalem
the long sleep and the cry of Unity
City of cities
          whore and muse


In the name of love
 I stole money from the beggars
  and gave it to those needy ones
who do not advertise their plight

In the name of love
 I fed my starving brothers
  taking the food from hungry mouths
that had already consumed their fill

In the name of love
 I unbound the slaves
  hacking off the arms of those
who had borne their chains complacently too long

In the name of love
 I burned the heretics
  for daring to pronounce against me
on the nature of my love as sin

In the name of love
  I tore the evil from the hearts of men
   who would deny men Justice

In the name of love
 I sentenced those who dared
  to stand in judgement of their fellow-men

In the name of love
 I swept away the masters and the mistresses
  and fed their flesh to hungry dogs

In the name of love
 I gouged out the eyes of those
  who could or would not see
the blinding darkness in their souls

In the name of love
 I imagined a fire
  and kindled it
   with every book
capable of inflaming the imagination


In the name of love
 I held aloft the flaming sword
  I had inherited from Gideon

My heart fortified
 my head fortified
  my body invested with a duty

And I feasted on the bone
 I tasted the sweetness of death
  and spat it out

There where I had found it
 under an empty heaven
  beneath a torn veil

In the pitch darkness of a woman’s love
 where my sword hung spent and flaccid
  nestling in the hollow of my thigh

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Copyright © 2016 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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