Monday, October 24, 2011
Prayer of the World
The lions, tigers, and chimps ran free,
let loose upon a modern world from which
there is no escape. So fearfully we took aim,
all of us, really, and shot them dead.
We grieve our fear and our loss of humanity.
To end the despot’s rule we picked up arms,
all of us, really, and brought him down with
vengeance as was due. “For all of us, it is a hard
road, because our battle is against ourselves.”*
We take over power that will inevitably dictate us.
There should be hope in this: That among the
uprisings one group lays down arms, says it will
no longer kill to fight, but not so fast: All of us, really,
for survival’s sake, remain skeptics of peace.
We lift up to some god our hopeless hearts.
It should be no surprise, then, as markets crumple
that we uncover the final irony: All of us, really, are
linked not by dollar, yen, euro or pound, but by the
common need to bear up under the weight of it all.
We are broken and impoverished. Mend us, heal us.
These may all be lessons that we’ve learned before.
All of us are prisoners of someone else’s war.
All of us are victims of someone else’s crime.
All of us are powerless, by our own design.
--Martin A. Bartels (This poem first appeared in Poetry24)
*Ahmed Ounaies, as quoted in the New York Times 10/23)