VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Ray Ziemer

Betrayal

Another clattering army

Crawls the desert

Under towering plumes of dust;

Another round of artillery fire

Shakes the earth,

Pounding mud houses

Back into the salted earth they sprouted from

Smudging a sickly shimmering sky

From one uncertain horizon to the other.

These ragged families fleeing down the road,

Same as all those other desperate refugees

Of every other desperate dying place on earth,

I grieve for them.

But I am furious

For the fighters left behind

To hold the line,

Defend that blood-soaked barren sand,

For them I am incensed

That they must eat the dirt 

Of empty resignation, 

Must choke it down and

Chew the choice of exodus or death 

They must suffer the shocking stab of treachery,

Shake their fists with all the rage of this

Betrayal.

Cosmic Blueprint

To hell with this emptiness formless and dark.

Let there be skyfire bright above stone –  

Yes, that’s better,

That’s good.

Let the blue water rush, let it pour from the void,

And let sunshadow cool against rock solid shores, yes

I like it.

So Day versus Night,

Hardlands assailed by clamorous waves

With the vault of the heavens

Containing it all,

Gilded with sunshine

Polished all silvery, starry and moonish.

Excellent, excellent!

Let it be green

And teeming with life.

Let the creepers and crawlers and swimmers

Go wild!

With these beasts of the field and 

Birds on the wing

It’s a beautiful thing

If I say so my Self.

I could check the plan over once more,

But it’s perfect.

Perhaps such a delicate

Balance requires

Some maintenance,

Some supervision:

Someone to tend it, 

Defend it and 

Keep it all working

The way that it should: 

Optimum temperature, 

Perfect proportions of solids and gases,

Predator, prey,

Seasons and tides.

So the sheep have their shepherds

The seas have their song,

Mankind has the Knowledge.

What could go wrong?

Whistling Man

This fresh-air bright-eyed morning

A whistling lilt drifts over to me

On the road as I walk the dogs.

My neighbor, barely seen through a screen

Of native honeysuckle,

Strolls his sprawling lawn out back

Collecting trash and maple twigs,

And trills a breezy melody,

A song I can’t quite name,

A Celtic air or 

Maybe an old-time movie tune.

I think of my father

Who could summon a song 

Whistle all day long

While trimming a room

Shingling a roof or

Fishing along the shore.

With childhood memories

Carried off on the wind

I’m a little surprised to hear that man

Or anyone

So relaxed and easy with his warbling.

Was there ever a time I’d chirp like that?

I’m afraid now I’m incapable,

Dry-mouthed, bitter, drawn,

Too tense to even purse my lips,

Too tight to trill light-hearted tune,

Too angry to whistle a happy song.

1984 – On Reality of Past and Future

Let’s talk about reality:

How many fingers do you see?

Two plus two is always four,

Unless we say it must be three.

Who controls the past controls the future; 

Control the future, you make the past.

Where is that place, that time, that year?

Where is that Sunday, where Saturday last?

It exists inside the skull, perhaps

But has no substance you can feel.

It’s not external, outside your self.

It isn’t concrete — it isn’t real.

It exists in the mind and nowhere else.

Is memory hidden beyond the reach

Of foes and those who seek control,

Seek to lead, to train, to teach?

No, your memories are not secure

In the mortal mind so fallible, weak, 

Decaying matter that we can mold,

Matter we change however we speak.

Nothing exists but consciousness.

And that you see is what we control.

And we decree your reality.

No need for things that serve the soul.

No use for art, for literature,

No fantasies of self-reliance,

The earth’s no older than we, believe it.

Omnipotent, we need no science.

The so-called laws of nature? Nonsense!

The law of gravity? Nonsense too!

We make the laws, decide the lies 

But anything we say is true.

How many fingers do you see?

Look hard, if you want to stay alive.

Two plus two is always four,

But then, perhaps we say it’s five.

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