James Scully  

 

 

 

 

page 34 · spring 2012 · communist review


 

The Great Wave

Great Wave

 

we saw the world end

in a ball of fire

 

two balls of fire

& puffs of dust

outrunning gravity

blowing off

the laws of physics

 

2 planes took out 3 towers

it was a miracle it meant

anything can happen

 

in reality

it was the Middle Ages

mind-bending demons &        wonders

mounting a comeback

 

the Enlightenment

was shockt it decayed

into too many words

with too little to say

 

brain waves heart rhythms

emanations of the flesh

mirrors of the soul

warped that day

their ashen darkness falling away

like the great wave of Hokusai,

the vast horde of its waters

storming up & over

the little fishermen

in their little boats

 

Mt. Fuji shines

in distance

white & serene

 

. . . we woke

to fire & smoke

small bodies on TV

holding hands

walking out of windows

 

buildings

give up their ghosts

over & over

on TV after TV

spewing toxic dust

haunting down the day

of panicked faces, eyes

running half looking back

at the science fiction

choking their streets . . .

 

Hokusai’s fishermen cling

to the gunnels

of their slender boats

 

the Great Wave

the menace

& beauty of it

hanging over them

 

is as perfect & as still

in its blackness & blueness

as Fuji in the brilliance

of its canopy of snow

 

it is what it is

 

here nothing is

we have learned to read

      miracles

as signs of a conspiracy

 

we manage to live

with murder & torture

in the name of a homeland

we never lived in

 

caught in a web

of blood-&-soil,

fear like a filthy sack

pulled down over our heads—

 

we will never now not see

human beings rendered

walking on air, as though

treading the heaviness of water

feeling for the bottom

for all to see

the dignity the immensity

of their death, & of their littleness

 

against the spectacle

of the New American Century

when the world we knew ended—

—floor by screaming floor—

in the first murders of the terror war

       The next poem is another example of the way Scully uses cultural references to strengthen his poetry. The poem is called Qana, which is the biblical site of the water-into-wine miracle. The poem is a reaction to the Israeli Defense Force’s bombing of sleeping Lebanese women and children in 2006, which Hezbollah countered by camouflaging their rocket launchers as trees. These trees could be moved the way Macduff’s forces (which like the great wave can be seen as both avenging and redeeming) camouflage themselves as trees to advance on MacBeth, in Shakespeare’s play.

 

Qana

 

where the wedding was

where water turned to wine

where the best was saved

for last

 

shsh    they're trying to sleep

in the dark wood

of dreamless dreaming—

coughing  farting  snoring  sighing

turning over

 

where the wedding was

the rolling storm

that is not a storm

flies over

 

it doesn't feel much

to drop a bomb—

a slight bump

under the wing

 

the thing is done—

 

their deaths

like little yapping dogs

rush out

into the nerve-endings of the universe

 

the bodies stay put,

impossibly still

 

so it was said in school

Macbeth doth murder sleep—

with so much life to kill

there's no room for sleep

 

in Qana

where the wedding was

those who sleep, die

 

the future of sleep

is buried alive

 

in Qana where the wedding was

the murdered in their sleep

wake, just long enough to die

to become the woods

where the wedding was . . .

 

they are on the move now,

which is impossible

 

these impossible dead

growing out of their deaths

into an army of trees

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