Poetry

March 24, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

By

Wally Swist

 

 

Abhorrence

 

 

When a peaceful protest of the slaughter

of goats in India becomes violent when

 

local men riot and begin stoning women

protesters, leaving one woman in critical

 

condition, it is abhorrent. Whatever

the reason there would be any rationale

 

for endorsing the denigration of women

not only injures those subscribing to that

 

but blinds those who chose to

throw stones and wounds their own inner

 

feminine. Denouncing women

and becoming so thoroughly engaged in

 

reviling them, is unacceptable

in whatever form, and only offers nettles

 

instead of salve to assuage the sting.

A solution to the issue could be

 

engendering a pedagogy in preventing

such a crime. The stoning of women

 

is unconditionally unacceptable,

and anyone who partakes in such an act,

 

among the rubble, does violence to

themselves, without their even knowing

 

they are doing so. If only they knew that

I art thou, they could possibly begin

 

to comprehend that it is

they themselves who are about to be

 

bludgeoned by the stones

in their hands, and that nothing except

 

atonement can absolve the rage

in their eyes, the blood beginning to

 

streak their own

faces, just as they take aim and throw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Wizard

 

 

People lined the curb

along the length of Flagler Street—

 

Memorial Day, Miami, 1958,

I recall my mother holding my hand,

 

when I was five. The white summer

dress she made herself only made

 

more fashionable with the blue cloth

belt around her waist, and me dressed

 

in beige shorts, a green polo, sandals—

both of us delighting in the parade,

 

the colorful display of the marchers,

the onlookers. Until the wedge

 

of the white cloaked riders, with

veils and pointed hats, on horseback,

 

approached where we stood

on the side of the road; their energy

 

that of an imminent impenetrable

darkness drawing you into its center,

 

magnetically; and for everyone

to see, its Grand Wizard, his veil

 

lifted, hard obdurate eyes gazing

into the crowd along the street named

 

after the Standard Oil magnate and

railroad tycoon who died accidentally

 

in a fall down the marbled stairs of his

home at Whitehall. My boy’s soul

 

intuited evil incarnate and rebelled

against it instantly, the sheer malice

 

and foul malevolence in the man’s

visage, smoldering beneath the zany

 

hoodlum costume, precipitating

my protest beside my mother, openly

 

crying out that I didn’t like that man,

the one on horseback riding past us,

 

the man meeting my face with his cold

eyes, the one my mother began pulling

 

me away from and covering my mouth,

beginning to make her way through

 

the crowd by the curb with me

in tow, her stopping eventually to

 

whisper loudly to me that I couldn’t

say such things out loud to the man

 

on the horse, that he could do

things to us that we would not want

 

done, that he and his men were

the ones who burned crosses on front

 

lawns, that these horseback riders

were known as the Ku Klux Klan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dream of Lions

 

 

Before I awoke this morning,

I dreamed of lions in a field

that I was either departing

 

from or that I might have been

entering. The field being

bordered by a an evergreen

 

forest, and the lions slowly

moving forward downhill

into the pasture, stopping

 

occasionally, then roaming

further, again. To my surprise

I had no fear of the lions,

 

although I respected their

power, their windy manes,

the fierce beauty even in

 

the wrinkles of their faces,

some of them rearing

their heads back before

 

they vocalized their MGM

growls; and I distinctly

remember I didn’t want to

 

leave them, as the colors

in the dream began to fade

and disappear, the tan of

 

their tawny bodies, the field

in all of its verdant green,

blurring against the darker

 

green of the forest, whose

scent I could still inhale,

upon awaking, as I pulled

 

myself away from the lions

and their strength, knowing

that the last dream I had

 

which possessed a similar

visceral dominion was

my dream, as a boy, when

 

tigers were tearing the body

of my mother apart, only

six months before she died,

 

but this time nearly fifty years

later, the lions were loudly

roaring as they roamed

 

the meadow, however,

most of the time they were

still and were just as silent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo

Wally Swist

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) and a new interpretation of The Daodejing of Laozi, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Press, 2015). Some of his new poems appear in Commonweal, North American Review,andRattle. Garrison Keillor recently read his poem “Radiance” on the daily radio program The Writer’s Almanac.

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