Sample stanzas from Part Four: Rome,
Joshua of Nazareth, the “Dark Ages”

65

“Rush to me, day of mortal pain; this night
And my immortal longings are not spared,
Yet love remains.  Hold fast, believe me: light
Will ever sparkle from the love we shared
If, open and attentive, you can hear
Our lonely desert song of death and life
Transcending pain, and move beyond your fear
Of nails, cruel crosses, hate . . . life’s endless strife.
Such arrogance, these men astride their State.
Sparks fly from crosses, from the crucified,
Igniting questions that infuriate.
See Rome’s perplexity; she thinks we've died.
    We shed this life; we know what it was worth.
    Rome stays behind, imprisoned on bare earth.”

66

“I dream men press me with conflicting wants
And as I struggle to be fair with all,
Tight (tighter!) grows the choking cord that points
Me toward my grave.  Awakening, I stall;
I would sleep on, oblivious to threats
(Where have I failed? Where is my son?), and die,
But I must rise and pay this new day's debts.
'Marcus Aurelius!' our people cry
While thinking me the most secure of men,
Yet Commodus, my son, I cannot trust . . .
I long to trust.  What if he fails?  What then?
The laurel wreaths fall when and where they must.
    These men called Christians, what is it they seek?
    Who was this Jesus Christ of whom they speak?”

67

He was a man, for all that we could tell.
He sought, through tenderness, to overcome
Our jealous, vengeful priesthoods: those who yell
For crucifixion of the bothersome.
“Love ye one another.”  Plain, his words burned,
Shamed our Neurods.  Hold, Youth!  Hold to love and doubt
For, straight from cross to Boss, the man was turned
Into their “God.”  (Your effigy carved out,
Too, Siddhartha, hanging in their lair.)
A neutered Christ emerged, insipid, pale,
A mirror image of themselves; a snare
To catch our new-born birds, wings wet and frail
    Like Yitzhak on his father's altar plate.
    Marcus Aurelius, the hour is late.

In spite of valiant struggles, too late as it turns out:

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69

Greed is the enemy, Aurelius;
Enduring Greed, the sick, perverted child
Of Pain and Fear.  Your Rome of Servius,
The Gracchi, Brutus: reformations mild
But prescient.  Now hear our epoch’s cries
For fairness.  Carthage lived a brilliant life;
If colonies and slaves could banish lies
Then mighty Carthage would still thrive.
True victory, as you have written, rests
Within ourselves, so even Hannibal
Could not stop Rome; found no protective nests.
Rome's role: to prune and cull the overfull.
    Hear new storms gathering!  They’ll strike us hard
    If our sharing instincts are not on guard.

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75

Mistrust has melted not and chaos reigns;
"Rome, once so fragile, weak . . ."  The pendulum
Swings wild and fierce; on masters’ wrists now chains
Of misery cut deep.  Harsh morn has come
For those who slept secure in their belief
That change would not reach them.  The edifice
Of classic style rots too.  The sterile thief
Dines on aristocrats whose orgies this
Resembles.  Strong, rebellious heirs of Spartacus
Stride free, but hungry.  Infertility
Saps energies from sinking Rome.  “With us,”
Hurabo pleads, believes, “find unity!
     If joined in courage, trust, goodwill, perhaps
     We’ll reignite flames Rome allowed to lapse.”

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79

Zarathustra's sea-bird dives before me;
Dives, cuts, climbs into a pool of blue
Which, shining, crowns the tallest forest tree
Then finds the path down which our black doe flew.
From rocks in water, wood in wind and sun,
A rhythm whispers, mounts: Discovery!
"Swift, strong, and clean, here birth and death are one.
Come feel and find your own entelechy."
A monastery looms before my eyes:
Stone walls which bear stark signs of many storms.
A weathered door cracks, opens to what lies
Within: a circle, shadows, fire-lit forms.
   Here dancers celebrate with Bahdawils
   Whose sea-chant ─ breaking waves on rocks ─ fulfills:

80

"See Zarathustra's sea-bird on a wall.
Restricting herself here is she less free?
From Attica came the clarion call;
Its echoes vibrate for eternity.
Can you recall Greek search that once moved us?
We will preserve that mighty catalyst
For rebel minds, attend to ourselves, and thus
Surviving, transmit what is simplest.
Our doe, curled safe in blanketing shade,
Is not asleep; all past winds live upon
The current breeze, and, though she will evade
A tempest here, she's ready still to run.
    Let yourself go, breathe, dance, then join the chant.
    Communal seeds of radiant hope we'll plant."

81

My mind is racing to avoid itself;
A swarm of high emotions makes demands.
But intimations dawn of one true self.
Can I now trust myself on shifting sands?
I learn the chant; my tension bends and cracks.
I breathe, breathe free; my stress is letting go.
Obsessive worries lose their grip, relax;
I feel my ever-moving stillness flow.
The monastery door is closing, see,
To sounds of clapping and of opening tombs
While fear dissolves, turns to serenity:
The calm of mothers’ breasts and of their wombs.
    Auummmm mani padme.  Peace, our breath, our One.
    Secluded flowers growing toward the sun.

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