Tending herds of 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 awful 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 days
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 standing,
Beyond the rolling clockwork of Yuga
Once known time unwound,
And all the pages and pixels vaporized,
(So much hard work, vaporized!)
Along with the skills to transmit them?
In mills, on small boats and with fishing.
Was that the source of the numeric?
Or was it mining,
Or the knapping of flint?
Parallel and perpendicular:
A fine initiation to geometry?
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 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 far and away across many years,
In a civilized way, in our very own 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, clearly,
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 speak of free hearts,
Of the liberation of our affection,
Of the love felt for self and others,
The one we’d forgotten,
Repressed and stifled into breathlessness.
Of tears of joy and sighs of relief
Of 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,
Which could warm our chill heart,
We, lost in our heart of darkness,
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, never again 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, 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 with me,
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
Summoning 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 that.
It is up to you, young Learners,
With but a little help from us weapon-stained elders
Dragging the blood-trail of every victim of history.
Starving babies by the billion
And indifferent to this blot upon our soul.
Instead of drowning the poor,
Every hand to the oar and the bailing!
Every heart excited in our success,
Every brain inspired by
The peace mentality we’re talking about.
Peace technologies will follow
Its awakening… Ours…
There may yet 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.
By all that’s holy, become heroes!
A bit more common sense and strength of heart,
Place the best possible world
Before 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 bugs 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 many prejudices,
About your fears and your misfortune.
I’d rather invite you to pledge, on your honor,
To build up the common good,
As a deputy of this honorable race.