I have walked these streets at midnight alone in the rain
to watch the life drip slowly from the sky --
pooled, half-broken in shadows that hold
promises of what never comes to pass. I have seen
and with those eyes devoured the madness
feasting upon it to nourish when naught else would feed.
These moments are mine, slipped through the cracks
one bleeding into years and all I can claim as my own.
Do I speak in ancient voice? For oft I forget,
language is their own and you cannot comprehend.
Let me find my words, for they have been spoken before.
The silence is a weighted thing, carrying burdens
that cannot be relieved by prayer. Child of God,
you know the solitude of death in life --
of watching all you have learned wither and die on the vine.
I have seen the faces of ghosts given shape and form
to haunt the living who do not know their name. I have held
the hand of the dying to ease that pain. Mine the hand
that brings peace, yet I find no peace in my world.
I have known them each, from moment to moment
and learned their dreams and faces that they wear.
You do not know the secrets whispered in my ear
and shall not know, for though they are granted me
they are not mine. Not anymore. I claim the burden
but the joy was never mine to safeguard.
So look upon my actions kindly
and remember the blossom of youth we have long since lost.
Your greatness has waned, but I recall the man you once were.
Child of God, I grant you this --
that you may know my duty and balance it against your own.
It is a weighty matter, should you see with tired eyes.
Your own eyes grow wearier with each passing moment
as they scan the horizon from your celestial throne
but can they know what it is they look upon
when you do not wish to touch? Can they find
the moments of truth in the hours of endless repetition,
can they, eagle-sharpened, sift the sand to find
the single gleam of gold? For until they can
do not presume to judge my work.
These hands are stained with the blood of ages
but this heavy heart is washed clean in the rivers of Jordan.
Take me not into your struggle, for I have struggle of my own;
I have stood before your ministers of God to hear
their veiled accusations whispered in my ears.
Ministers of God, who are you to devote your lives
to the love of power? The golden calf lures you
from your appointed duty, yet your god does not
strike you down. I shall cast my staff to the ground
and draw it back a serpent to strike at your hearts,
lest you heed my words. I speak not my prophecy for you
if you listen with prejudiced ears,
twisting the word of God to serve your own narrow means.
Take me not to task for my duty,
for you have polluted your own with your blackened taint,
and are no longer that which you were. You have cheapened your role,
prostituted your dignity for a scrap of secular power.
My skin shall shine with the word of God,
but my eyes see the fate of man. I stand ever between.
You know not, nor can you know, their struggle.
O Lord of Hosts, how long will you withhold
your compassion? How long before you destroy these whores
who claim to serve you? They spread the wine of their doom
in every moment they slight your creations.
Take them back and teach them your fire and love.
And she, the daughter of God and man combined
once part of the Mother and cast adrift in the sea of tears --
what purpose does she serve? She is decked in the scarlet and purple
of her triumphs, clutching at her power with empty hands,
pulling the strings of her puppets and not aware
that she is nothing but a pawn that thinks itself a queen.
She holds her hands open --
smiling, seductive, luring the faithful and wicked to her side
to be used in her schemes -- what role can she play?
For she stands ever out of reach, the bait that calls
to those who wish more importance than they have
and drapes herself in gauzy temptation.
She thinks herself free and wraps herself
in chains of her own devising -- how, then,
can she love God, if she cannot love herself?
How can she awaken the sleeping deity
if she cannot awaken her own slumbering heart?
Daughter of God, the way to redemption is fraught
with perils, but the baptismal waters are cleansing.
Go down to the river and confess your intent
and the heavens shall open up to descend upon you --
then, then shall you be delivered. I cannot lead you there,
for you must choose the purification on your own.
But your eyes are cloaked in shadow,
and you cannot find the river. Leave the road
you are on, for it brings you no closer
to the Kingdom of God.
But you turn away from me and heed not my words.
If you have ears, then hear: you sow the seeds
of your own destruction with every word
that falls from your lips. Turn back, daughter of God,
lest this cup pass to you as well.
In dealing with their own kind the children of this world
are more astute than the children of light.
How, then, can the children of God
sit in judgement over the nations of the earth, bare-faced,
and heed me not when I show them what they lack?
I should have been a prophet exiled in the desert
to lead the way to the kingdom of God.
But these broken streets are all that remain to me.
I am living among a rebellious people.
They have eyes and see nothing, they have ears and hear nothing --
yet what blame could fall to them, when they have been
cast out and exiled from God's touch?
How could they sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?
I claim these moments as my own
stealing the only coin they can take as theirs;
the guilt threatens to overwhelm me in the forever-moments
such as these when I am forced to see
what I am doing. I am a thief of time
who lays claim to seconds
that should compose their threescore and ten.
I cannot gift them my pulse
for it is needed to sing through my veins.
I cannot gift them my breath
for it can whisper through no lungs but mine own.
I have watched the parade of death from the instant
they are born, brought into this world naked and screaming
and all too aware that from that moment
they own nothing but borrowed time.
Dying is a mystery to me.
And I am a mystery to them, garbed in my borrowed identity.
O my child, the light of my eyes, why did I let you go?
Could I show you, child of earth --
could I give you my voice?
No, for it breaks when it leaves
my throat, as you broke when you lost
your love, again and again.
You are the dispossessed
from the heavens, cast out
and the only one remaining who once knew
the stars. I envy you that,
that security of having known
the face of God as he guided you.
But I know the pain of having had and then lost --
how, then, could I be other than what I am to you?
And I, the thief, will steal your affection for me
and hold it close to my heart
for these nights that slip through the cracks
when you are a child who still remembers,
before the veil of language forces away
the concepts for which there are no words.
Can I guard you this time, not knowing
if I am among the living or the dead
when I see the ghosts that look back up at me?
My hands have ever been empty when I reached
to the cradle to save you from what I knew
would transpire. I cannot hold back the world
though I should try with every feather
in my broken wings. Can you know
what price failure brings me? Can you feel
the terror of gazing upon you and
not knowing, never knowing, ever wondering --
how shall I fail next? What small miscalculation
shall bring your world tumbling down
like a house of cards this time?
I could grow to hate myself for what I have done to you,
for what I have failed to do, were it not for the trust
I see in your eyes when you look up at me. Do you remember
the nights of gazing at the stars,
giving each one name and weight, echoes of nights
stretching back to the dawn of time? Is that the spark
of recognition when we meet again? You seek my name
and I respond, "I am." For it is a name of wonder
and it is my name forever.
Angels are terrible things,
one wing dipped in the blood of vengeance
that cleanses even while it ignites.
I cannot save you
but I can walk by your side while you fall
and grant you the benedictions
that I knew when I was created, knowing
that they are not enough.
You need not wrestle me for my blessing, O Ysrael,
for I could not bear to strike you
more than I already have.
Let the river run to the ocean. Let the dreamers wake
and the dream remain eternal. I shall watch
as ever I have
and become that which you love, the thief
living in the cracks and crevasses
of your feeling. I bleed, but I bleed
your blood. My tears are not my own
but are formed of your darkest terrors
that I lift from you, stealthily,
as you sleep. I am defined ever by your sorrow.
It is all that I have
and so I shall wait for it patiently.
Angels know how to prophesy, after all.
Silence. Not even the rain striking, warm kiss
on the cobblestones, shall sound like bells
ringing on the steel and stone.
By night, the silvered Babylon is an unreal city;
the dead do not walk these streets, filing over
the bridges to oblivion. Death has not undone so many
as to people the skies. But I, I step with the feet
of thousands I have been and gone, and I cast my eyes
over the figures of the spectres that once were known here.
I have walked these streets through many nights
best left forgotten. I have heard the lamentations
for the dying empires of man, time gone by --
by the waters of the river they lay down and wept,
the children of earth, wept for the forgotten glory
of the empire of the gazelle. From the banks of the river
came they, burning, a fire across the plains
that brought forth the fear of God's love.
What water bear /I/ to wash away that fury?
I have poured out upon the ground the seven bowls.
The eternal air shall tremble and fade with the sighs of stars
as the last echoes of the past give up the ghost --
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,
but why do you ever return me to these streets?
Grant me, God, my understanding;
I would call upon you, I am calling on you
to come into me. But I hear only the silence
of the streets and the sussuration
of my breath in my ears. I hear
no hosannas in return.
(The spirit wants only that there be flying;
it cares not whose the wings.)
And I have been sent, the angel to guard him
on his way and to bring him to the place
that God has prepared, but who shall heed me
and listen to my voice? Who sees the single feather
that falls from the sky to touch them?
O Lord, you whose touch I barely remember
half-whispered across my brow --
I bring my heart to you, light that teaches truth.
Let not my heart tell me vain fantasies
I shall go down to the river
and listen for the silence of your wings.
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