Tending sheep herds;

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 source 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 forget 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 was unwound,

And all the pages and pixels vaporized,

(So much hard work, vaporized!)

With the skills to transmit them?


Water power,

In mills, on small 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.

Loosened from shielding arms

By the last gasps

Of desperate dying fathers

Lovers, husbands and brothers

All fallen in combat. 


Out into the wilderness,

Far from warrior-haunted plains,

Unto distant hills and shores,

Out 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 remaining rhymes,

Despite the tears they wring from one.


While cities are combed-through by weapons,

Leveled, charred in flames, and spilled out to sea,

Set adrift in famine and disease,

Turned into charcoaled, 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 devour 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 surviving children, if able, 

Always instruct those children,

To recite some verses and count the weaves.


Thus, in bold fisheries

In the delight of fine embroidery,

Of magic books and rare wines,

Traded from far and away since many years,

In a civilized way, in our way,

During the good years prior and since,

The abacus click and the tinkle of gold,

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 topped off

And their children sleep safe and sound.

Every Learner, often and together,

As long as there’s peacetime left.


In courts of law,

Why not wash each other’s feet?

A ritual purification for jurors,

A litigant washing the feet of a rival

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 calmed

By the miraculous peace of God.


Let us speak of freed hearts,

Of the liberation of our affection,

Of the love felt for self and others,

That 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 –

Which could warm our chill heart,

And cradle every child in loving arms.


Peals of baby’s laughter,

The thrum of great flocks of birds,

From forest 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.

Instead, Learning everywhere.

Thousand-year-long life spans

Or painful ones stopped 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, nowhere unfelt.


What can I tell you about this peace technology

Of which we’ve lost recall?

I, a mere weapon mentor,

Keen wine bibber,

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,

True lovers of their neighbor,

Their opulent exploits

Front-page headlines for Learner.


Proud to serve as this herald.

Post it loud and clear on the Internet,

No matter how short-lived my message

No matter how poorly written and heard.

I spit in the eye of doom,

That you may read me and agree,

Or deny me, just as well,

Or better yet, do better.

Hear ye! Hear ye!


We’ve just endured the Kali Yuga,

The Age of Destruction,

And are lunging for the Satya Yuga,

That of Truth.


History has never been

Our judge and our jury

Leading us blindfolded to the scaffold,

But our past, just a cracked 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 but a little help from weapon-stained elders

Dragging the blood-trail of the victims of history.

Starving babies by the billion

And indifferent to this blot on our soul.


Instead of drowning the poor,

Every hand to the oars and the bailing!

Every heart excited by our success,

Every brain inspired by

The peace mentality.


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 final 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

On the altar of God.

Not the ludicrous 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 the 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,

Navigate beyond them,

To God’s serene homeport.


What do we have left to lose,

Who must lose everything in any case?

What are we afraid to learn,

We who know next to nothing?

What are we afraid of,

We who have nothing left to fear?


I defy you to acknowledge world peace.

Could care less where you’re coming from,

Or about your prejudices,

About your fears and your misfortune.

I invite you to pledge

To build up the common good,

As a deputy of this honorable race.



Learner, begin