Tending sheep;

Weaving satins, woolens and tapestries;

Linen woven from fine-spun flax,

Perhaps one of the first plants

Humankind learned to grow.

Spinning cotton that’s so hard to pick,

As Gandhi recommended,

Or silk of endless toil:

Could those have been the sources of literacy?


Did spirit and wisdom arise from poetry alone?

Was prose confined to accounting and suchlike trifles

Because the written word was easier to ignore in olden times

Than good poetry recited;

No more and no less than that?

Shut out bad judgment

Simply by not memorizing it

And forbidding its transcription?


Did some epics survive the end of the world,

When all book learning died?

Was the epic, the Veda, the only thing left to be heard,

Beyond the rolling clockwork of Yuga

Once known time unwound,

And all the pages and pixels vaporized,

(So much hard work, vaporized!)

With the skills to transmit them?


Water power,

In mills, on boats and with fishing.

Would that have been the source of the numeric?

Or was it mining,

Or the knapping of flint?

Parallel and perpendicular:

A fine initiation to geometry?


Survival skills

Cast away from nearby massacre,

Out into the hills

And unto distant shores.


Noble virgins raped.

After being pried from shielding arms

With the last gasps

Of desperate, dying fathers

Lovers, husbands and brothers

All fallen in combat. 


Refugees in the wilderness,

Far from warrior-haunted plains,

Unto distant hills and shores,

Among reticent shepherds,

And taciturn fishermen,

Where security is bought in silence.


To tarry there distant and linger,

Sigh over beauties and laughter long gone,

And count with care the stitches,

Reweave the nets,

And devotedly recite memorized rhymes,

Despite the tears they wring from one.


While cities get combed-through by weapons,

Leveled, charred in flames and spilled out to sea,

Set adrift in famine and disease,

Turned into charcoaled and blood-greased spots.

Every peaceful hearth smothered,

For years and decades and centuries,

As God wills.


Our nightmare zombies,

Else silver scream stalkers,

Lunging 3-D to eat us alive:

Merely starving survivors of this hecatomb?

Bygone phantoms logged in DNA

From a distant past best forgotten?

Merely us in less auspicious guise?


Tucked away out there from the zombies

Shut away from plagued and looting armies,

Teach the little survivors, if able, 

Always instruct those little ones

To recite the verses and count the weaves.


Thus, in bold fisheries

In the delight of fine embroidery,

Of magical books and rare wines,

Traded from far and wide for many years,

In a civilized way, in our own way,

During the good years prior and since,

The tinkle of gold and abacus clicks,

And the singular charm of good music,

Along shared shores.


Let us speak of civilized ways,

Ephemeral yet heroic.

What wise men discuss

When their belly is full

And their children sleep safe and sound.

Every Learner, often and together,

As long as there’s peace time left.


In courts of law,

Why not wash each other’s feet?

A ritual purification for jurors,

Litigants washing the feet of their rivals

And those of other celebrants?

Before and after the trial?


Let us speak of this mirror image realism

Of God’s mercy for us all

Reflected in our pardon of the Other,

And of outbursts becalmed

By the miraculous peace of God.


Let us talk about freed hearts,

The liberation of our affection,

The true love felt for self and others,

The one we’d forgotten,

Repressed and stifled.


Tears of joy and sighs of relief

Human angels singing the praise of God

Instead of apes stammering stupid demands.

As if we knew what we needed

Better than God,


Except to accept God’s TLC,

That keeps us alive –

We, lost in our heart of darkness –

That could warm our chilled heart,

And cradle children in loving arms.


Peals of baby laughter,

The thrum of great flocks of birds,

From forests stretching as far as the eye can see.

Every front door unlocked

In trouble-free security.

Held safe by warrior valor vouched worthy

A thousand miles deep.


The sacrifice of famine, a scandal,

Of plague, inadmissible,

Of injustice, unjustifiable.

Learning everywhere instead.

Pleasant life spans a thousand years long

Painful ones cut short:

A simple question of choice.


With the ethics of a newborn:

Fragile, deep and charming.

Sacrifice vestigial but deeply rooted,

Self-sacrifice, no longer of the Other.

Celebration explosive but shallow,

Everywhere apparent and nowhere unfelt.


What can I tell you about this peace technology

Of which we’ve lost all recall?

I, a mere weapon mentor,

Keen bibber of wines,

Ancient druid spokesman

Of long dead prophets,

A mere apologist

For those sorrily mistaken?


Hearken to the herald of Learner!

Herald, not hero (as Sarraute noted).

True heroes and heroines, they are a comin’.

Their thoughts deeper than mine,

Better peace technicians than I,

Trust lovers of their neighbor.

Their opulent exploits

Front-page headlines for Learner.


Proud to serve as this herald.

No matter how short-lived my message,

Or poorly written and or hardly heard

Post it clearly on the Internet.

I spit in the eye of doom,

That you may read me and agree,

Or deny me, just as well,

Or even better, do better.

Hear ye! Hear ye!


We’ve just endured the Kali Yuga,

The Age of Destruction;

We are lunging now for the Satya Yuga,

That of Truth.


History has never been

Our judge and jury

Leading us blindfold to the scaffold,

But our past, just a crackly old mirror.

Like an old snakeskin

That we are sloughing off

Without knowing it.


Having struck bottom and bounced,

We are on our way to better things,

Whether or not we’ve understood.


It is up to you, young Learners,

With little help from your weapon-stained elders

Dragging the blood-trail of the victims of history,

Starving babies by the billion,

Killing beasts by the billion,

And indifferent to those blots on our soul.


Instead of drowning the poor,

Every hand to the oars and the bailing!

Every heart animated by our success,

Every brain inspired

By the mentality of peace.


Peace technologies will follow

Its awakening…  Ours…

There may be enough time,

Before the pixels fade,

Before the world is jumbled once again,

Before bright eyes collapse into bitter dust,

And entropy bays its victory,

And shuts us up forever,

And recasts the Yuga dice.


Heroics, by all that’s holy!

A bit more common sense and strength of heart,

Place the best possible world, humbly,

On the altar of God.

Not the arrogant mediocrity of

This WeaponWorld concentration camp.

Swap it for the values of PeaceWorld,

Before we are annihilated in any case,

Exterminated like the social insects we are

By a merciless universe.


Let blaze our ideals!

Let our fondest dreams

Shine like a second Sun,

Like the chorus of our radios.

Let our foremost hopes

Shine brighter than entropy

And cast a defiant flare

Into the abyss of Death!

Too familiar with its bitter truths,

Let’s navigate beyond them,

To God’s serene homeport.


What is there left to lose,

Since we lose everything in any case?

What are we afraid to learn,

Who know next to nothing?

What are we afraid of,

With nothing left to fear?


I defy you to acknowledge world peace.

Could care less about where you come from,

Or your prejudices,

Or your fears or your misfortune.

I invite you to pledge

To build up the common good,

As a deputy of this honorable race.



Learner, begin