Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

SATURDAY after Ash Wednesday

(You will notice, I'm sure, how dated are the references in this piece. If you are as old as I, they will make sense. You will also note the references that tell you where I was living when I wrote these pieces. You can do it!)

Still waiting for a sign?
You too?
"Master, we want to see you work some sign."

"An evil, faithless age
is eager for a sign," he says
and from his bag of tricks
like Jonah from the whale's belly
he pulls out a sign
a cracker jack surprise
plastic Jonah
the sign of our times.

Deeper in our eagerness
which is larger than a whale's belly
and as faithless as cracker jacks
lie some more signs of our times:
Joe Mannix and S.W.A.T.
missles poison poised
and ready to work their sign
dusty volumes of the Kerner Report
trials at Nuremberg and My Lai
a matching set
of dimestore plastic Jonahs
formed from the same mold.

Finally he reaches in and extracts
a palm branch of victory and triumph
food in the barren desert
cool shade in the heat of fire
survival in the midst of God's blazing wrath.

But the branch shrivels
like our eagerness in the face of adversity
and bursts into flame
like victory in the triumph of success
we grow old living in the past
wearing the ashes gracefully.

Still waiting for a sign?
Then this:
the ashes of our triumphs
life absorbs and recycles
not so plastic Jonahs.

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