Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Poem for The End of Days

So, the world is going to end on Sunday. At least according to one NY preacher. Why are so many of us so anxious to contemplate the end, to believe that in our lives, apocalypse? Every time there is a natural disaster - flood, earthquake, tsunami, fire, even disease - the end-of-timers and religious freaks claim that God is punishing someone for something. Whether it's New Orleans, Haiti, Japan, California, natural disasters are their god's version of Sodom and Gomorrah. It's just another form of greed. I'm better than anyone else (gays, adulterers, atheists,...) and I want my 'just' reward. Throw everyone else into the pit. I want my white velvet cushion next to Jesus, my angel wings. Anyway, I'm making plans for next week.

Of course, the whole end of times on May 21 announcement did spawn a poem or two. Here's one I wrote this week called, for now, Mercy. It probably won't make it into any book, but it felt appropriate for the time!


I suppose I believe in evil,
   or I believe in it at least as much as I do
in divinity,
                 and perhaps a little more than I believe

the world will end
this year on May 21st, which was the message
printed on both sides of a sign held high by a paunchy middle-aged man,

red hair thinning, at the east entrance to Grand Central Station.
Through the white
                                he’d washed over the cardboard

I could make out the words this side up.
He stood there
all day. I know this because I passed him on the way in

to catch a train, the way out ten hours later.  Nietzsche wrote
that weak men invent gods
because they need to punish themselves

for not being born powerful. They resent
the whip-wielding elite
and make up stories of sin

to explain the scars on their flesh. The red haired man spoke
as I walked by. He told me,
the day of rapture

is the end of God’s mercy. I believe in evil
at least as much
as I do in Dickens or at least in his Oliver Twist,

who never once in Dickens’ story held back a quid for himself.
I don’t believe anyone is that virtuous.
            Nietzsche suffered

a mental collapse just three years after publishing his theory
of good and evil. They say his last act was to throw himself

between a worn-out horse and its owner who was beating
it to death. I don’t believe
    anyone is perpetually punished.

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