“Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means ‘Glory to the Lord.’ The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say: All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.” Leonard Cohen (b. 1934), Canadian musician, singer/songwriter, poet and novelist
Walkers are lined-up neat by the dining room,
like race horses at the starting gate and the
Asians wear crosses, insured by Christianity.
The Europeans find comfort in Vipassana,
Savor the ironies. Hallelujah. Glory be!
Glory be, Hallelujah; glory our broken bodies and the broken gods that haunt our lives Praise in all perfect and fractured Hallelujahs
At three they’re viewing Brokeback Mountain,
but I’m staying in my room, playing Hallelujah!
Compressor humming in the background.
I’m just toking O2, pondering the complexities,
savoring the ironies. Hallelujah. Glory be!
Glory be, Hallelujah, glory the broken bodies and the broken gods that haunt our lives Praise in all perfect and fractured Hallelujahs
Write a poem in praise of all the hallelujahs, the perfect and the fractured, an affirmation of ultimate faith in life despite the broken places and the ironies. Share your poem/s or a link to it/them in the comments section below.
All poems shared on theme will be published next Tuesday. Please do NOT email your poem to me or leave it on Facebook. If you do it’s likely I’ll miss it or not see it in time.
IF this is your first time participating in The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and phototo me at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These will be partnered with your poem/s on first publication.
Deadline: Monday, June 25 at 8 p.m. PDT.
Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro. It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, sharing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning nonjudgemental place to connect.
We extend a warm welcome to poet and musician Dick Jones, new to Wednesday Writing Prompt, and a warm thank you to our treasured regulars: Colin Blundell, Paul Brookes, Kakali Das Ghosh, and Sonja Benskin Mesher and to occasional participants Gary W. Bowers and Denise Aileen DeVires. Welcome back!
I’m pleased that Dick chose to write about Abu Ward, a citizen of Aleppo, the city from which my family sailed from the Middle East to come to the United States a little more than a century ago. CNN called Abu Ward the “last Syrian gardener.” He’s not, of course, though there are few like him. Nonetheless, how some support their spirit in the face of a tragedy so monumental is remarkable.
Like my Lebanese grandmother before me, I season my cooking with Aleppo Pepper. I know that it no longer comes from these beautiful people and their cultured city, which was one of the oldest in world. To say the heart aches is understatement. Rest in peace, Abu Ward, and all victims of this multifaceted violence. The peoples of Syria are not forgotten.
Join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome: novice, emerging or pro. See you then … Meanwhile, enjoy – and perhaps be inspired by – this rather special collection.
‘The presence of the world is flowers’. Abu Ward
This was the man
who planted flowers
where the bombs
This is his son
who kneels alone
by the garden gate.
The dust he pushes
around their stems
with his thumb is where
his father lives now.
And each flower
will lift some dust
as it rises in spring.
Abu Ward (from the Arabic for ‘Father of the Flowers’) maintained his carefully nurtured flower garden during the worst of Assad’s systematic bombing of Aleppo. He was killed by a bomb dropped near his home. His son Ibrahim left school at thirteen to help his father. After Abu Ward’s death, Ibrahim attempted to maintain the garden, which is now closed. Sadly, in this instance, environmental justice has been, as so often, a victim of warfare.
DICK JONES says he was initially wooed by the First World War poets and then seduced by the Beats. He has been exploring the vast territories in between since the age of fifteen. His work has been published in a number of magazines, print and online, including Orbis, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Ireland Review, Qarrtsiluni, Westwords, Mipoesias, Three Candles, Other Poetry, Rattlesnake and Ouroboros Review. In 2010 he received a Pushcart nomination for his poem Sea Of Stars. His first collection, Ancient Lights was published by Phoenicia Publishing and is available from them or via Amazon. His translation of Blaise Cendrars’ epic poem La Prose du Trans-Siberien… was published in an illustrated collaborative edition with artist Natalie D’Arbeloff by Old Stile Press in 2014. Dick writes lyrics and plays bass guitar in acoustic/electric songwriting trio Moorby Jones.
as you take the road to Paradise
about half-way there
you come to an inn
which even as inns go is admirable
you go into the garden of it
and see the great trees and the wall
of Box Hill shrouding you all round
it is beautiful enough (in all conscience)
to arrest you without the need of history
or any admixture of pride of place
but as you sit in a seat in the garden
you are sitting where Nelson sat
when he said goodbye to Emma;
if you move a yard or two you will be
where Keats sat biting his pen
thinking out some new line of poem
bagged sugar cherry extract oil
of cloves buckminsterfullerene
essences pantheonized for delectation
bottled genies at our command
we so love purities
fleece white as snow
anthracite darkly dense
and we feel godlike
we soupify the sky
we landfillet the lakes
slagsilt the seven seas
it is a remorseless juggernaut
this megamodular magicker
and some of us are waking up
some of us want a different magic
the magic of the camper
who goes sees enjoys records
leaves the site none the worse
some of us want a reckoning
a calling to account
shame and punishment
some of us want to be sheriffs
but YOU STOP THAT NOW
is just like any other war
on any other badguy
and artificial value
has yielded unartificial power
and corruptive pushback
and corrosive continuance
deliverance must come
as with any other childbirth
spasmodically and with some blood
crowning and pushing through membrane
a slap and a gasp and a wail
our magical recording
transmitting devices will help
ill-gotten gains though they be
our one-person choices will help
the enormity of the challenge
the size and perversity of the beast
will be revealed
as you yes you
give up your midas’s vehicles
stop eating the factory-farmed
children of hell’s misery
“places you must see before you die”
serve up justice to yourselves
and fire the single brick
of your life’s commitment
in the kiln
Raise your head
I’m your benevolent mother
My eyes -your azure sky
When you are blown by caustic fervor
My brimming watery eyes turn into serene raindrops to alleviate you
My hands -your verdurous trees
When you lie wearily on my verdant lap
My hands spread florid twigs to shade you
My moist lips -your rivers
When your thirst touches me
Words of my lips turn into rivulets to kiss you to mitigate your thirst
Now -my son
Why are you burning my eyes with your voluminous black smoke
Why are you cutting my hands with your severe axe so grimly
Why are you tearing my lips throwing poisonous blues
I’m your mother earth
I’m your reason of survival -with snowy peaks
Wouldn’t you be just to me
Wouldn’t you be fair to me
Not only for me but also
For your nourishment
For your children’s nutriment
For your future’s sustenance ages after ages …
Given the media reports on the U.S., you might think we are the only ones with gun violence problems. Unfortunately we are not alone. According to a Global Burden of Disease study in 2013, firearms were the cause of 180,000 deaths worldwide, up from 128,000 in 1990. Approximately 47,000 were unintentional.
“The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems — and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’.” — Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, March 2000
According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, there are many countries that surpass United States in gun violence. These are largely in the Caribbean and Central America, the result of gangs and drug trafficking.
A recent feature in Forbes Magazine reports that annual firearm-related deaths in the Philippines are 9.46 per 100,000 and 9.41 per 100,000 in South Africa. According to Kaiser Foundation the U.S. is at 11.1 per 100,000.
“From 1979 to 1997, almost 30,000 people in the United States alone died from accidental firearm injuries. A disproportionately high number of these deaths occurred in parts of the United States where firearms are more prevalent.” Wikipedia
The presence of guns in households and the ease of acquiring guns contribute to the numbers of successful suicides. In fact, my sister died from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the head. She was twenty-seven and I was thirteen. It’s been fifty-four years but I have never stopped wondering how and where she acquired a weapon and how she learned to use it.
“There are more than 875 million firearms in the world, 75 per cent of them in the hands of civilians.Guns outnumber passenger vehicles by 253 million, or 29 per cent. Each year about eight million new small arms, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured — enough bullets to shoot every person in the world not once, but twice.The authorised international trade in small arms and ammunition exceeds US $7.1 billion each year.” GunPolicy.org(hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health)
ACCORDING TO THE GENEVA CONVENTION ON ARMED VIOLENCE AND DEVELOPMENT:
More than 740,000 people have died directly or indirectly from armed violence – both conflict and criminal violence – every year in recent years.
More than 540,000 of these deaths are violent, with the vast majority occurring in non-conflict settings.
The annual economic cost ofarmed violence in non-conflict settings, in terms of lost productivity due to violent deaths, is USD 95 billion and could reach as high as USD 163 billion – 0.14 percent of the annual global GDP.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
Today, for Wednesday Writing Prompt, we tackle gun violence. In concert with poet Evelyn Augusto of Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence, I ask you to bare witness and to do the work of raising the communal consciousness of this critical issue, especially the consciousness of those who feel the need to carry guns, those for whom a gun is part of their identity. This is the first time I’ve invited a guest to post a prompt and I do so because Evelyn has made a commitment to this cause. You can read more about what she’s doing HERE.
You are: The sound of your mother’s voice calling your name and your father’s
chance for a better life–not his,
but yours, because it’s too late for him,
but not for you…not yet, unless you forget
U R Not Your Gun.
You are your greatest fantasy and
someone’s best friend and another’s
first love. You are shelter
from the storm.
You are memory and risk and reward.
You are tougher than your
disappointments, you are kinder
than you imagine, you are everything
that child you once were
wanted to be and more. But
U R Not Your Gun–
not grey and cold and lifeless.
Not unforgiving like that. Not hollow or predictable. Not dangerous.
If you feel comfortable, leave your work or a link to it in the comments section below. All work shared on theme will be published by The Poet by Day next Tuesday and also on GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE, POETS DO…DUELING WITH WORDS TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE . Anyone is welcome to take part in Wednesday Writing Prompt no matter the status as a poet: beginning, emerging or established. You have until next Monday at 8 pm PST to respond.
If you weren’t there
you can hardly imagine the beauty,
the exquisite peace of those hot summers
Sun as bright as a child’s heart
Trees thickly leaved and old as God
Heat rising off the nubby concrete
in mighty rainbow waves and life
moving in time to the music of paradise
Or, so it seemed to preschoolers at play
At the dead of noon
Even the child sensed it
that transcendent moment,
nature in quiet meditation
no butterflies winging
children stopped playing
grown-ups stopped working
the Hudson Bay stilled its roiling
the beloved city choked on the swell of an air-raid siren ….
just blowing a chill wind into
languid days of childhood dreaming
toddlers crying for toddler reasons
well-trained grade-school children
diving under oak desks for the required