Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two poems

 Of what use is a poem?

 Of what use is a poem
can it wipe away the tears
of a frightened child
(only if it is printed on soft toilet paper)

can it prise apart the bars
of habit and indifference
that line the dayless pens
of factory farms
(only if it is to reach beyond the converted)

can it unclench the angry fist before it strikes
(no, nor stop the missile in its flight, that moment
has passed)

of what use is a poem?
can it become milk in the dry breast
can it comfort the senile and infirm on their bedsores
bring hope to the prisoner
pry the addict from his needle embrace

of what use is a poem
can it cook the supper
cool aching feet
pay the mounting bills
can it stop obsessive thinking
soothe the clutching mind

of what use is a poem?
can it heal the wound of memory
stop time in its tracks
halt the terrible roaring
of having a cause
make me into G-d?


 Unusually I feature someone else's poem, in this case the third prize winner of the Reuben Rose Poetry Competition 2011 - Dina Yehuda

Bombing in Jerusalem

for Mary Jane Gardner
"and you shall love the stranger"

You had already travelled
far from your native Scotland
taught Bible in Africa for twenty years
but you wanted to get closer to the source
so you came here to study the Hebrew
teachings that came forth from Zion
and the word of God from jerusalem

Did you hope we would welcome you?
because to us in earthly Jerusalem
carrying heavy bags
past stations of sorrow
you were invisible
with your foreign accent and assumptions
a stranger on a strange mission

And when the owner of the kiosk
ran out to warn the people
standing near the black duffel bag
perhaps you did not understand him
because it was not the Hebrew of divine Jerusalem
he was shouting
but the harsh language of our lives here.

No comments: