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Walid Abdallah Jul 2018
As long as we are ruled by madness, hounds
will devour fetuses still in their wombs,
mines will sprout in wheat fields, and even
the crossed light of morning will be eye-fire.

We’ll see the young hanged, wronged
at the dawn prayer. It’s an age witness
to a snarling pig fouling mosques.

When madness rules, there are white flowers
on the ruined branches, emptiness
in a child’s eyes, no kindness, no faith, no
dignity held sacred. All fates futureless,

everything present worthless. As long as madness
rules, the children of Baghdad can only guess
why they wander hunger’s thorns,

why they share the bread of death, why off
in the distance, American Indians
hover in the cold, why greed shouts them down,
every race crawling ghost-hearted.

Through blood-colored streets, between humiliation
and disbelief, crippled shadows creep,
and the madness-hounds howl in our minds.

We are on our way to death.



The children of Baghdad scream in the streets
as Hulagu’s army pounds the city’s doors
like an epidemic; his grandchildren roar
over the bodies of our young.

The wings of wild birds are blood rivers,
black claws claw eyes—all this cracks the silence.

The Tigris River remembers those days, so look
behind the curtain of history—how many
aggressors have passed through the centuries
of our land, and still we resist?

Hulagu will die, and the Iraqi children
will dance in front of Degla. We are not
to be hanged from all corners of Baghdad.

*


A river can be a weapon against injustice on the earth.
A palm can be a weapon against injustice.
A garden can be a weapon.

Among the water, in the silence
of tunnels, though we hate death,
for God and right we will set fire forever
to your refusal that Islam is holy.

Baghdad, ***** by tyranny, your children
are raising flags. Where are the Arabs
and the white swords, wild horses, glorious families?

Some of them were condemned, some
fled shameful, some stripped and gave away
their clothes, and some are lined up in the devil’s hall
to get their share of the spoils.

And people ask about a great nation’s ruins,
but nothing remains of that shining empire
that spans from the ocean to the gulf.



Every calamity has its cause.

They sold the horses and traded in
the knights in the market of rhetoric:
Down with history! Long live hot air!

Death comes to the children of Baghdad
in the smallest toys, in the parks, in restaurants,
in the dust. Walls collapse on the procession of history,
shame upon civilization, shame from a thousand borders.

From the unknown, a missile charges,
“Where are the weapons of mass destruction?”

Will daylight come again after the ****** smile
has been erased, after planes block the sunrays,
and our dreams spurt suicidal blood?

By what law do you demolish our homes,
and flood fire upon a thousand minarets?

In Baghdad, days pass, from hunger to hunger,
thirst to thirst, under the gaze of the master
of the mansion, the thousand-masked face.
Will there never be an end to this nonsense?

The curtain rises: we are the beginning.

To starve people—is this honor?
“To prey upon supplicants”—that’s the glorious slogan of victory?
To chase children from one house to another—the joy of tyranny.

These days, people have the right to humiliation, submission,
death in every atom, and the chronic question,
“Where are the weapons of mass destruction?”



The children of Baghdad are playing in schools:
a ball here, a ball there, a child here, a child there,
a pen here, a pen there, a mine here, a death there.
Among the fragments, the cactus.

There were children here yesterday,
fluttering like pigeons in open spaces.
One of these days, dawn might lighten the universe,
but for now the sun of justice is far below the horizon.



Despite sacrifice, there is a dark gluttony:
some are faithful, and some are sellouts.

Oh nation of Mohammad, my heart longs for Al Hussein.
Oh Baghdad, land of Caliph Rasheed,
oh castle of history, and once-glorious age,
the two moments between night and day are death and feast.



Among the martyrs’ fragments,
the throne of the universe, shaken by a young voice.
The dark night leaves when a new day flows.

Oh land of Al Rasheed, don’t lose hope, every tyranny ends:
a child adores Baghdad, holds a white notebook and flowers,
paper and poetry, some piasters from the last feast.

*
*

Behind his eyes, a tear that won’t break
but flows like light deep in his heart: the picture
of his father who left one day and never returned.
The child embraces ashes, and stays a long time.

A thread of blood runs through his mouth;
his voice and shed blood are one.
His features washed out; all of this world is separation.

The child whispers, I long for Baghdad’s day.
Who said oil is worth more than blood?

Don’t ache, Baghdad, don’t surrender.
Although there is dissent in this blind time,
there is, in the far horizon, a wave of visions.

Although the dream is distant, it rises. Rise,
and spread my bones in the Tigris River,
so daylight will one day rise over my funeral procession.

God is greater than the madness of death.
Who said oil is worth more than blood?
Translated from Arabic by Fogle and I.
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
jake aller Dec 2019
Snarling Cup of Coffee    




I like to start my day with a hot cup of coffee
I pound down the coffee
First thing I do every day
as the dawning sun
Lights up my lonesome room

Yeah, but not just a simple cup of java Joe, but a ******* snarling sarcastic smarmy cup of coffee

I mean, - we are talking about an alcoholic, all speed ahead, always hot, always fresh, always there when I need it, angry, attitude talk to the hand Ztude, bad, bad assed, beats breaking, beatnik, bluesy, bitter, ******, bombs away, capitalistic, caffeinated up the ***, cinematic, communistic, Colombian grown, Costa Rican inspired, Cowabunga to the max, crazy assed, devilishly angelic, divine, divinely inspired, dyslexic, epic, extreme vetting, evil eye, expensive, ****** vision inducing, Ethiopian coffee house brewed, euphoric, freaky, freazoid, foxy, Frenched kissed, French brewed, funkified, foxy lady, graphic, GOD in my coffee, with Allah, Ganesh, Jesus, Kali, Buddha, Christians, Durga, Hindus, Mohamed, Jesus and Mo and their friend, the cosmic bar maid, Sai Babai, Shiva, Taoists,

Zoroastrians, drinking my god ****** coffee in Hell;

growling, gnarly, happy, hard as ice, Hawaian blessed, high as a kite, hippie, hip, hipster, hip hoppy, hot as hell yet strangely sweet as heaven, jazzy, jealous, Kerouac approved, kick ***, kick my ******* *** to Tuesday, kick down the doors and take no prisoners, grown in the Vietnam highlands by exVietcong, Guatemalan grown, kiss ***, illegal in every state, imported from all over the ******* world,

insane, lovely, loony, lonely, lonesome, malodorous mean old rotten, *******, nasty, narcotic, never whatever, never meh, never cold, not approved by the CIA, not approved by DHS, not approved for human consumption by the FDA, not your daddy’s sissified corporate cup of coffee, NOT DECAFE coffee, not your Denny’s truck driver weak as brown water cup of fake coffee, not your establishment friendly cup of coffee, Not your FBI coffee, Not FAKE Herbal coffee substitute, but a real cup of coffee, not your farmer brothers dinner crap, not made in America for Americans, not safe for work, not your Starbucks average expensive overpriced ****** corporate chain cup of coffee, Not pretentious, Not White House approved, not State Department safe, nuclear, Not Patriotic, operatic, Peets’s coffee approved,

paranoid, pornographic, psychotic, pontific, politically aware, rapping, rhyming, right here, right now in River city, rock and roll up the Yazoo, sad, sadistic, sarcastic, sassy, satanic, schizoid, *******, silly, ****, smarmy, smelly, smooth, snarky, snarling, stupid, stinking, sweet as honey, sweat inducing, symphonic, Trump can’t handle this coffee, vengeful, Wagnerian, wicked, with nutmeg and cinnamon swirls, with a hint of stevia, with a hint of vanilla, with a hint of ***, with a hint of whisky, with a hint of cherry, with a hint of fruit overtones, with a hint of drugs spicing up the coffee, spendific, speeding, splendid, superior accept no substitutes, survived the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the Afghan war, the first and Second Korean war, World War 11, the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on black people, the ****** revolution,

Soulful as a summer’s night in MOTOWN- James Brown approved, TOP approved, Berkeley approved, the coffee that Jimmy Hendrix drank before he died, the coffee that Elvis drank on his last breakfast, the coffee that Barry White crooned as he drank his cup of coffee – and the coffee that made the white boy play stand up and play that funky music, the coffee that made Jonny B Goode play his guitar, and made Jonny bet the devil his soul after he drank his morning cup of righteous coffee and the coffee that make the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll, the coffee your mother warned you against drinking, the coffee that Napoleon drank when he became the Emperor of all Europe, the Coffee that Beethoven drank when he wrote the Ninth symphony, the coffee that Mozart drank as he wrote his last symphony, the coffee that Lincoln drank before he was killed, the Hemingway drank before he killed himself, the coffee that started the 60’s, and ended the 20th century,

the coffee that Lenin drank as he plotted revolution, the coffee that ****** and Stalin drank with FDR as they divided up the world after World War 11, the cup that JFK drank before he was blown away, the coffee Jerry drinks while driving in cars with random celebrities and political figures, the coffee that Jon Stewart drinks before he goes on an epic take down of some foolish politico, the cup of Arabic coffee that Sadaam drank the day he was executed, the coffee that GW and Cheney drank when they bombed Baghdad, the Indian cup of coffee that Bid Laden drank before 9-11 and just before the seals blew his *** to hell, the cup of coffee that Tiger Woods drank with his mistresses while playing a 3, 000 dollar round of golf at Sandy Lane golf course in Barbados, the last legal drug that does what drugs should do, the cup of coffee that Obama drank when he became President, Vietnamese, Vienna brew, wacky, whimsical,

Whisky Tango Foxtrot, wild, weird, wonderful, WOW, Yabba dabba doo! Yada Yada yada Zappa’s favorite cup of cosmic coffee, and Zorro’s last cup of coffee, Good to the last drop rolled into one simple cup of hot coffee   
As I pound down that first cup of coffee
And fire up my synaptic nerve endings with endless supplies
Of caffeine induced neuron enhancing chemicals

I face the dawning day with trepidation and mind-numbing fear
I turn on the TV and watch the smarmy newscasters in their perfect hair

Lying through their perfect blazing white teeth
about the great success the government is having
Following the great leader's latest pronouncements

I want to scream
and shoot the TV
and run out side

Shouting
Stop the world!
I want to get
off this ******* crazy planet"

The earth does not care a whit
about my attitude problem

It merely shrugs
and moves around the Sun
In its appointed daily run

the universe whispers
in my ear
time to drink more coffee
for an attitude adjustment

And I sit down
The madness dissipating a bit
And enjoy my second cup
Of heaven and hell
In my morning cup of Joe

Coffee Revolutions



coffee cup
Coffee led to the American Revolution<span
As patriots drank coffee
To rebel against
the aristocratic English tea

Coffee started the London Stock Market
And started the gossip mills running
Every great invention
Was fed by coffee's sweet brew
sweet allure

All the great thinkers
All the great leaders
All were enslaved
to coffee's magic

I sing my praises
Of the great
glorious coffee lady

Long may she continue
To be my sweet companion

Long may coffee continue
To rule my heart
And set my heart
on fire

Ode to Coffee



Mistress of sacred love
Sacred lady of desire

You start my day
Setting my heart on fire
With your dark delicious brew 

And throughout the day
Whenever the mean old blues come by
You chase them away

With your bittersweet ambrosial brew
Every time I inhale your witch's brew

I am filled with power, light and love
And everything is al right Jack
If only for a few fleeting minutes

I love you oh coffee goddess
In all your magical forms

In the dark coffee of the dawning day
In the sizzling coffee in the mid morning break
In the afternoon siesta break
And in the post dinner desert drink

I love you my coffee mistress
You are my refuge
From this horrid world

And you are my secret lover
Never disappoint me, ever
I've never had a bad cup
Of that I can be sure

Even the dismal coffee
Served at Denny's at 3 am
Is still sweet loving coffee

Even the farmer brother's diner coffee
Excites me and gets me going
Asking for another cup of divine delight

Coffee always is there
It is always on and piping hot
With hidden dark secrets
Swirling in its liquid essence

Coffee is my last vice
My only legal vice left

Coffee does not cheat on me
It is always faithful, always true
It does not turn on its friends

And all it asks in return
Is that you come back
Cup after cup after cup

A good cup of coffee
Is a little bit of heaven
In a cup of dark liquid hell

Coffee is like a drug
But a good drug that does what is should
And never complains

It does not get grouchy
It does not hurt you

It does not make you crazy
But allows the muse to come out
And play with it

Coffee led to the American Revolution
As patriots drank coffee
To rebel against the aristocratic English tea

Coffee started the London Stock market
And started the gossips mills running

Every great invention
Was fed by coffee's sweet brew
sweet allure

All the great thinkers
All the great leaders
All were enslaved to coffee's magic

Yeah
I sing my praises
Of the great glorious coffee lady

Long may she continue
To be my sweat companion

Long may coffee continue
To rule my heart
And set my heart on fire

I love thee
Mistress coffee
And sometimes I think
You love me too

No More Coffee Blues








I love coffee
Always have

And coffee has loved me back
But lately I have soured on her
Soured on the whole coffee scene

On the harshness
of the morning brew
And the promises it makes

As I sip of its nectar
Drawn into its lair

Drinking drop by drop
As the caffeine takes over

Rewriting my every nerve
Turning me into a slave
For its perverted pleasure

Yes I love coffee
But I am afraid

Coffee is a harsh mistress
Demanding so much of me

Promising the sun
And delivering the moon

As I drink her swill
Deepening under her influence

I have the coffee blues
Can’t live without her
Can’t live with her

I try
But tea does not cut it
Not really

***** does not do it
At least not in the morning

Yoga is not enough of a buzz
Nor is the runner’s high

And I am afraid deadly afraid of *******
And speed and drugs and energy drinks

And so I remain a slave to coffee
My only legal drug

As I sip another
and fall under
her seductive spread

Once more failing my resolve
To skip coffee for that day
That morning that moment

I shall never be free of her spell
Ever and she knows it
As she beckons me
Every morning with her intoxicating smell

And I come to her
and drink her brew

And become her slave
again and again

Coffee Ya Du





must drink coffee
have every day
the morning dawns
drinking my coffee as I yawn

Morning cup of coffee 



every morning
I drink my coffee
as I contemplate 
the dawning day

watching the news anchors
blather on and on
drinking my coffee
thinking of life

and my coffee
consumes me
overwhelms me
and at time controls me

after all coffee is a drug
and I am her slave
from time to time

Drinking Coffee in the Morning



in the morning
dangerous mood
felling deranged
watching the news

trigger warning
you are ******* dude
end of the world
the end times come

I drink coffee
in the morning



Coffee *** Killed





His wife has banned my use
by my owner
says he makes too much
of a mess when he uses me

it is not his fault
I want to say
but being a coffee ***
can not speak

and so I am abandoned
thrown out into the trash

and feel very sad
for my owner

who was my friend
he liked me

he keep me going
and I did my job

providing him
with fresh coffee

doing my coffee *** duty
and now it is over

Drinking My Coffee


drinking coffee

drinking my coffee
early in the cool morning
thinking life is fine

everything will be okay
after I drink my coffee

morning coffee



morning coffee

dawning sun 











coffee MGur Poem


coffee

I pray to the coffee gods
every cup of coffee
is like a sacrament to me

I pray as I drink my coffee
that it will fill me
with wisdom

and find peace
with my coffee

as I drink
my devotion

Hot coffee


cup of coffee


take coffee with you
Hot hot coffee, makes my day -

Must drink My daily coffee, as the morning dawns - 

With out my morning coffee

in me,  I feel nothing at all -

Electrified Hot Coffee



coffee is the drug of choice
nothing else will do it
as I drink coffee
Electrified
Hot Coffee

Hot Coffee and Cake


coffee
coffee is the drug of choice
electrified circuits
as I drink coffee
coffee and cake



Coffee Patina



coffee
hot coffee
hot Hellish Heaven
Essence of coffee
the rest of the coffee poems can be found at
Staff Sgt. Joseph D'Augustine
a proud Jersey son
whom Thou hast blessed
laid in St. Luke’s ground
for his heavenly rest
April 4, 2012

1.

in a far off province of
God forsaken Helmand,
our dear son Joey
met his untimely end

an explosive crack
a most terrible sound
felled a beloved Jersey son
to the cold cruel ground

working the live wires
of a well placed IED
a deathly burst killed him
it was awful to see  

Staff Sgt. Joseph D’Augustine
in solemn duty fell
fellow brothers in arms
will forever reverently tell

of courage and character
of a dear fallen friend
and how the valiant warrior
met with death at his end

for he was always faithful
to his beloved corps
comrades couldn't ask
a valiant marine for more


2.

details of his death
are not the real story
selflessness and bravery
are but part of his glory

is it brash to
question why he fell?
in a useless bitter war
an embroiled senseless hell

a generation mustered
to fight in the war on terror
serving four tours of duty
in a lost decade of errors

two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq
could a nation ask a man for more?
for he was always faithful to the call
upholding pledges he hath sworn

3.

the burden of war
to a  few confined
it rarely crosses
an American’s mind

incessant war machine
drones on apace
the horror of conflict
so cleverly displaced

with afternoon baseball
and super bowl parties
big disco paychecks
and other selfish priorities

pay hollow tribute
to dear weary troops
when valor is mentioned
we gather in groups

we’ll raise the flag
sing stirring anthems
than its back to the party
pay it no more attention

self styled patriots
wave handfuls of flags
but ask them to contribute
the zeal soon lags

its left to the few
to shoulder burdens of many
fairness is lost
its a democratic calamity

four tours in a decade
an inhumane task
burdens require sharing
its only fair to ask

Joey was always faithful
to the task at hand
willing to step forward
to serve his homeland


4.

in the wake of 9/11
a nation deeply shaken
young patriots stirred
liberty’s call not forsaken

a call to serve answered
to quell the rise of terror
a clear clarion alarm
marks the nature of the era

Joey boldly came forward
to train and learn
the art of warriors
his bright patriotism burned

deployed to Afghanistan
to capture Osama
routing the Taliban
without much problem

but a pacified Afghan
not enough for Bush
he invaded Iraq
another military push

we rolled into Baghdad
adorned with victors garlands
Saddam’s statue toppled
our troops were honored

deposing a dictators
soon turned to occupation
a ****** mission transformed
to build the Iraqi and Afghan nations

once honored liberators
now a conquering force
bestriding broken nations
on a civil war course

military industrialists
stood to profit most
sweet protracted conflict
record earnings to boast

lives bartered for lucre
a region held hostage
the conflict deepened
hostilities hardened

America dipped into
a great recession
the war machine
bled money and
kept on ticking

scooping up contracts
rewarding investors
the dividends of war
heaven sent treasure

continuation of hostilities
preys on a nation's youth
as casualties mount
ill portents forsoothed

a fraction of citizens
bare heartaches of war
gulping measures of despair
to guard a nations door

a nation always faithful
to the holy pursuit of profit
a highest citizens calling
put money into your pocket


5.

our beloved Jersey son
gave a full measure of devotion
in dress blues they shipped him
back across the ocean

on the Dover tarmac
they received his remains
for a last ride northward
to his hometown terrain

repatriated body
bereft of soul saluted
solemn escort knelt
hearts trembled, tears muted

a hearse for a gallant man
flanked by state troop cruisers
to escort the funeral train
assure an honored movement

one last trip up
old thunder road
the storied highway
Joey often trod

the last detail legged up 17
reverent firefighters saluted  
from overpasses
to honor  the woeful scene

as the motorcade passed
the Garden State Malls
frenzied consumers
failed to notice at all

busy window shoppers
didn't to turn an eye
as Joey rolled home
to the sweet by and by

vets interred at the
Old Paramus Church
gently stirred in their graves
reasons for war they search

Channel 12 Chopper
circled its eye in the sky
televised the sad parade
captured many teary eyes

the early spring blooms
colorful petals displayed
maples and forsythias
a royal carpet laid

spring remains always faithful
as the new season turns
offer sunshine and glory
as our sinking hearts burn

6.

motorcycle escort
northbound lane clear
rolling homeward
Waldwick was near

leaves exploding
green shoots budding
****** white maple blooms
natures accolades stunning

the oaks yet bare
just waking from slumber
winters death passing
a sad day put asunder

the motorcade passed
Joey’s home on Prospect Ave
few  envision lifes endings
this woefully sad

red chevy pickup idles
in hoop crowned driveway
never to drain jumpers again
departed children can’t play

the eye in the sky
framed neighbors in mourning
welcoming back a fallen hero
unsettled emotions dawning

neighbors waved Old Glory
from painted stoops and curbs
unsure how this tragedy
visits this blessed suburb

green grass of home
always flush with spirit
tears welled in the eyes
most difficult to bear it

last cruise of the town
sad neighbors stand witness
paying final due respects
and ponder from a distance

what purpose is served
by this man’s passing?
the dead cannot speak
rationale is for the living

the terrible herse
death circles our town
moves through our day
hope of spring drowned

murderer of sunshine
killer of young flowers
budding trees breaking
our hearts an ashen pallor

we remember the beauty
of Joey’s stout face
as it looked on your finest day
exuding pure honor and grace

old vets gather
donning caps and pins
boasting semper fi jackets
jutting tear dripping chins

shaking hands, giving hugs
bearing tattered banners
the hearse ambles onward
we head home in solemn manner

good folks are always faithful
where beloved ones grew
the death of our children
we sadly cannot undo


7.

the bells of St. Lukes
called out from the sky
platoons of limping vets
marched in with pride

pomp and circumstance
requisite dress blues
family, friends, townsfolk
overflowed the pews

doleful bells resound
tolling a mournful reckon
the cost of war mounts
a family’s loss beckons

the casualties of war
falls upon a nation's youth
a seasons page not  turned
a flowing wound not soothed

the wistful cornet calling
floats on the fluted air
the bereaved ***** gently sounds
a congregations somber despair

an unsettling dirge
the parish grows uneasy
nationalist bravado wanes
in the forlorn sanctuary

both church and flag
draped in colors of war
mock stain glass windows
communicants adore

is it a betrayal of the flag
to offer enemies
psalms of reconciliation?
where does true loyalty lay
with God or a warring nation?

afterall this is a sanctuary
where peace and harmony reigns
are we not called to beat swords
into ploughshares as the highest
calling of our Lord?

we are always faithful
to the pathways to war
when the practice of peace
is what we should adore

8.

coughing and whispers
incessant low murmur
a baby cries out
we sit and remember

the crucifers process
in solemnity to greet
subtle ***** notes salute
a coffin draped in Old Glory sheets

the beloved child welcomed
to his eternal repose
priests splash holy water
within the sacred dome

an amazing grace revealed
lifted by marine pallbearers
dearly departed body presented
gently placed at the altar

a grief struck sister
lovingly eulogizes
recalls tonka trucks,
GI Joe’s and cool transformers

a punch in the nose
an approaching wedding
beckoning Eastertide
vacation plans left begging

my second grade class sent
Christmas cookies and cards
to dear Joey and warrior friends
he said it warmed stark winter hearts

he was raised in this church
taught trust and reconciliation
the comfort of the Lords peace
may it surely go with him

for he was always faithful
to sisters, family and faith
his resurrection service
imbues sacredness
to this space

9.

sharp in dress blues
Eddie T USMC Gunny
big 50 caliber smile
offers his eulogy

Bada Bing Jersey Humvee
we called him Joey Calzones
good mood, loved sausages
he tickled the funny bone

always willing to sacrifice
loved the Patriots Tom Brady
a women dominated household
gave him a way with the ladies

his calling explosive ordinances
he said he was livin the dream
March 6th last time we met
knocking frost off cold ones
man whatta scream

a gallant marine,
beloved brother,
a sure friend
he was always faithful
I’m deeply wounded
by his untimely end


10.

the gospel read
the homily offered
Ecclesiastes wisdom
a time for everything
proffered

God never turns
an eye from the beloved
though seasons change
we are not forsaken
never unloved

as loss arrives
surely grief grows
turn away not
wisdom knows

in resignation
love lay dead
diligent intention
banishes dread

our rekindled hope
we rend and sow
our beloved Joey
knew this was so

our favorite son’s
example taught us
now rises on eagle’s wings
to claim his divine justice

Jesus faithfully tramped
the path to an awful death
Joey too fought the good fight
a warrior now gratefully at rest

The Lord holds him close
to the ***** of sure love
a cantors beatific voice incants
Joey’s spirit that forever enchants

The Lord is always faithful
to the bereaved and  beloved
no one ever forsaken
all unconditionally loved

11.

the Holy Eucharistic cup
affirms everlasting giving
tasted to nourish evermore
a libation for the living

singing the Beatitudes
praising peace makers
mercy filled voice and song  
pallbearers lift Joey’s coffin

off to seek his final peace
an earthly occupation ended
he’ll suffer worldly hate no more
down the aisle his coffin wended

the family closely followed
a mother haltingly sobbing
faithful marines came forth
to steady her wobbling

there is no sudden waking
from this terrible dream
the pungent incense rose
to the chapels sacred beams

the stained glass murals depict
the passion of Jesus’s story
illuming a consuming sorrow
in all its grace filled glory

the ***** of death slinks on again
we search for consolation
the recompense of honor blest
leaves a hollow heart wanting
no answers offered to quell the dark
of these terrible life’s moments
only the desperate need to hold onto
beleaguered treasure that sustains us

for we are always faithful
to the things we know
always faithful to the
things we refuse to let go

12.

the color guard and funeral detail
assembled in front of St. Luke’s
the cemetery right next door
the procession a short troop

the living will stumble through
the darkness of separation
seeking elusive answers
of poignant uncertainty;
all gave some, Joey gave all
nothing more required for his
journey through eternity

Joey will always be with us
his stories forever retold
as long as the machinery of
great nations engage
the gears of wasteful war

Joey’s spirit lives
in a peoples desire
for freedom, only if
our hope of peace
is greater than the
need for conflict

Joey’s lifes work
is sure to bear fruit
if those remaining
fight the good fight
by taking up the
task to protect and
expand the values
of liberty we
hold most dear

like our good
friend Jesus
Joey wears a crown
bejeweled with
a ring of thorns
hoisted on a
terrible cross
the sweet
incense of you
meets our nose
we inhale your
earthly presence
beholding beautifully
adorned crucifix,
a reminder of
unjust persecution
and a perfect
resurrection
yet this wretched
coffin remains

pledging allegiance
we rationalize our
stories, articulating
our small parts
in  heroic sagas,
reciting myths of
ourselves, recording
the grim history of
a young marine
surrounded by
a smart color guard,
feasting on todays
eucharist, this
days sweet taste
of  the daily bread
of human sorrow

The priest finishes
his graveside
commendation
of Joey D

Taps conclude
a wind rises
crows take flight
winging over
a stand of budding
Sugar Maples
exploding in white
blooms, reveling
in the glorious
sunshine of this
magnificent day

St. Luke’s stairway to
God Country and Home
smiling portrait of you
forever young

we surround your grave
to bless the earth
you've returned home
to your place of birth

our flowing pride
and salty tears bless
the anointed ground
that you loved best

a proud Jersey son
whom Thou hast blest
laid in St. Luke’s ground
for his heavenly rest

for he was always faithful
to the blessed land
forever at peace
in the soils sure hands

Charles Ives
The Unanswered Question

Oakland
11/10/13
jbm
Fegger Nov 2010
Is this the place where garland grows,
Among the olive branches low?
Splattered, cindered, clay abode,
Am I so alien?
Encircled those, in khaki drab;
Paying homage to the bags;
Which hold remains of brave, young lads;
Will I feel again?

Surrounded, chains of un-lit lights,
Which only shine in day, not nights;
Illumination betrays the plights,
Should we become aglow.
A tree of polypropylene,
Adorns the tower, so serene;
A branch of steel hid in-between,
That only gunner knows.

The air of diesel, not of Myrrh,
As pre-fab dwellings start to stir,
Indifferent as they observe,
Fading of the Star.
A failed attempt at lone ‘SandMan’
Adorned with boots, bayonet in hand,
Iraqi winds displace his stand,
Re-formed in Kandahar.

T’was yesterday, on Christmas Eve;
A day ahead of promised leave,
When Paul, Eric, Mark and Steve,
Took leisurely patrol.
In Tikrit, where he was born,
Some sixty years before this ‘Storm’,
They’d set-out on this early morn.
Assessing evening’s toll.

Among the buildings, scattered ruins;
Charred men, like shadows, on the dunes;
From temples soar cremated plumes;
One hour had gone by.
In the distance, beyond the spire,
Come ‘reports’ of skirmish fire,
Incessant screaming of the dire;
Then screams dissolve to cries.

Approach, inside a city square,
Where once a fountain teemed, right there,
Smoldering flesh, low burning hair;
A family splayed together.
Rank and putrid pieces strewn,
Mother’s face, shrapnel-hewn;
Attending Allah far too soon--
All their hands were tethered.

Domestic dogs, now on their own,
Fight for human flesh and bone;
Such holy image sets the tone,
As chorus strikes ‘Jihad’.
Eric stumbles, exploded knee,
Bearing witness to comrades, three,
Souls reclaimed near instantly;
Christmas in Baghdad.

Is this the place where garland grows;
Among the olive branches low?
How I miss New England snow,
This Christmas in Baghdad.
Copyright, Fegger 2010
They say farmer’s son will learn to take care of seedlings;
smith’s son will learn how to forge and beat the iron;
baker’s son will learn how best to bake
to conquer best the market…

They say some birdies grow up knitting nests;
***’s foals grow up carrying loads;
cubs grow up learning how to roar most

to scare most the jungle…
The blood brothers2 were brought up
like sibling cubs of the lion
as if Mesopotamia was forest.


On birth day3 they learnt to blow lives out of bodies as candles;
a witness will tell how a citizen was received
by Mukhabarat4 waiters
one of such days,
and describe conviviality at Saddam’s
where the evil has born the arch evil5,
and where they learnt the art of making people yell!

At bees biting babies6 Uday was taught to find rejoice;
at parents wearing Adam’s garment7
in front of children
his father’s great power was worth of praise! 8
and he burnt to rule like father or more!



Would the Maker of the Heaven and Earth hold the fit
at the fate of Nahle Sabet9, the cake thrown to swine?
Would Mucius’s10 soul hold the fit
at the fate of Saad Abd al-Razzek Nihaya11
whose medals and stars were made spots
fit to throw to bin after the half of his life
hurled down from the sky?
Would the pearl Ilham Ali al-Azani12 be thrown like dirt to bin,
father’s fear of Allah tried,
and shot like a sneaking thief,
and the abu sarhan 13 stay without a prize,
and cause more devastations in the garden of Allah?

1. The lion and his cubs: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti and his two sons Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti and Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. - 2. The blood brothers: The criminal brothers. Though crimes committed by Uday, the first born of Saddam Hussein, have been the most reported by media, his young brother was not less cruel. In April 26, 1998 he ordered Colonel Hassan al-Amri to ****** on a grand scale at Abu Ghraib, Iraq’s largest prison, and more than 1,500 prisoners were all massacred the next day. – 3. On birthday: Reports say that Saddam’s sons received pistols as presents on their birthday! – 4. Mukhabarat: Saddam’s secret police. – 5. Where the evil has born the arch evil: such is the description of Saddam’s house. He taught criminality to his sons, and his first born became crueller than father. Uday told Latif Yahia, his body double, whenever he seemed weak or squeamish as a child his father would beat him with an iron bar and then force him to watch videos of prisoners being tortured. – 6. Bees biting babies: This is one of the tortures applied: naked children in a room with a bee hive, being stung hundreds of times, and their parents were forced to watch behind glasses! -7. Parents wearing Adam’s garment: men forced to **** their wives in front of their horrified young children! - 8. His father’s great power was worth of praise: First you note the irony. Uday told Latif Yahia, “Just wait until I become president. I’ll be crueller than my father ever was…” - 9. Nahle Sabet: A pretty architectural student. The girl resisted and rejected Uday publically; he threw her naked to his pack of wild dogs which ripped her to pieces while he watched, drinking champagne and laughing! Here is the testimony by Latif Yahia: «It was the look he was sporting on a crisp, dry winter day in 1987 when he drove around the campus of the University of Baghdad looking for action (for women to ****). He caught sight of Nahle Sabet, a pretty architecture student from a respected middle-class Christian family he’d noticed when he occasionally attended classes. He cruised past her slowly now, honking, trying to get her attention. She refused to even look in his direction. Two days later Sabet was a few blocks from her family’s home in a Baghdad suburb when a Mercedes sedan screeched to a halt on the sidewalk in front of her. Two men in dark suits got out and identified themselves as secret police. They told her she was wanted at headquarters for questioning and led her into the car. Headquarters turned out to be a farm Uday owned several miles from Baghdad. The frightened girl was hustled into a drawing room, where Uday sat at an antique desk. “You’re very lucky,” he said. “I’ve chosen you as my new girlfriend.” “You’re insane,” Sabet stammered. “I want to go home!” “Strip her,” Uday ordered his guards. The burly men pounced on her and ripped at her clothes until she was cowering naked on the floor. Uday towered over her, unrolling his favourite wire cable. “First I will beat you. Then, if you’re good, I’ll allow you to please myself and my men.” It took Uday and his men almost three months to break Sabet’s spirit. Then Uday was tired of her. Her face was ruined; her body was a mass of bruises. He had the guards take her out to the kennels where he kept his attack dogs. He’d told the keepers several days before to stop feeding them. Nahle Sabet was then smeared with honey and tossed into the kennels, where all evidence of the crime disappeared.» – 10. Mucius, (Gaius Mucius Scaevola): God of bravery and heroism in Ancient Roma. – 11. Saad Abd al-Razzek Nihaya: An Iraqi army officer decorated for bravery in the Iran-Iraq War but that didn’t help him or his new wife. Uday saw the couple walking together, took the girl to a hotel suite. She pleaded with him not to defile her - she had only been married yesterday. Uday beat her until she was ****** then ***** her. Then they heard a long, piercing scream, then silence. The girl had jumped from the seventh floor. Her husband cursed Uday, and he was soon sentenced to death for ‘insulting the president.’ – 12. Ilham Ali al-Azani: Uday always slept with the winner of the Miss Iraq contest. But when attractive student Ilham Ali Al-azami won she turned him down. Uday abducted Miss Iraq to his palace. He ***** her over and over again and then as ‘punishment for her defiance’ allowed all his bodyguards to **** her for an entire week. Then Uday circulated a rumour that the girl was a **** and let her go. The girl’s father, a devote Muslim, was so ashamed that he killed his own daughter. When the aging father appeared at Uday’s palace Uday had the old man shot.- 13. Abu sarhan: Uday seemed proud of his reputation and called himself abu sarhan, Arabic for "wolf".

Excerpt of Gallows Bird in Heaven, http://www.amazon.fr/Gallows-Bird-in-Heaven-ebook/dp/B005JKMW66

Source of the note: www.meritummedia.com, visited 2013/05/19
Excerpt of Gallows Bird in Heaven, http://www.amazon.fr/Gallows-Bird-in-Heaven-ebook/dp/B005JKMW66
ryn Dec 2014
It was those blue eyes, sparkling with words
I dreamt about reading but believed it impossible
Too beautiful to be seen with nuclear nerds
In my breakable beaker, you'd never be soluble.

A mismatched juxtaposition, atom for atom.
Even if I permutate, molecule by molecule.
We could never have struck stable equilibrium,
I could never escape the premise of ridicule.

Spent too much time postulating the unknown
Spent far too long balancing tricky equations
Head dug too deep to realise a factor that had grown
An external variable that had encroached with similar intentions.


My hand slipped from the scale when your finger touched my own
I forgot the words "controlled reaction", momentarily
Seeing goosebumps on your skin, and other bumps now shown
I gently pushed your wayward hair behind your ear, daringly

A moment frozen in the range of sub-zeroes
Dare I forgo the mandatory steps and arrive at a conclusion?
If I do I'd garner the title, "the nerdiest of all heroes!"
My "spidey-sense" failed me this time, and awarded me with a "fist-meet-face" reaction!

Happened in a blur, nanoseconds that sang in mock.
What was it that left me in a twirl?
Propped myself up to see the wrath of a crimson-faced ****.
All fists, no brains who yelled, "Hands off my girl!"


All this hilarious yet passionately painful hullabaloo
Let me drop the beaker of sodium in the zinc basin
Forgetting not to get it wet, the moment, clearly now unglued
When suddenly, "BOOM" it sounded like a pending cremation

Jocks, and nerds, and screaming cheerleaders
Hit the ground like a lunchtime scene from downtown Baghdad
And Blondie whispers in my ear, like a gypsy mind reader
"Maybe we should cool it, for I am in love with another lad"

Her words hit home and burned like The Lindenburg on fire
Amidst the fracas, cracked voice stammered to mask my bruised latent ego
"Nothing improper... Just an attempt to save your locks from the Bunsen burner
Science is my only love, just so you know"

Thanked God for my eyes and the need for correction lenses
Those thick convexes made it easy to not reveal
Steadied my frames and packed in hasty pretences
Accusing eyes followed as I exited the room with tears concealed...


Pieter Meyer
**ryn
You may have read this before as it is a repost of my collaboration with the witty and incredible Pieter Meyer. He seemed to have gone missing, along with the poem. So here it is... Hope you enjoy it
Michael McLean  Jul 2014
Baghdad
Michael McLean Jul 2014
we love a guy with a black eye blood shot

those cute five-finger dimples in his jawline up in millennial graphs

of x-time and y-self worth

increasing steadily in units knuckles and palms

lips and prods in a smooth

arching crescent down-facing hieroglyph of his swollen socket as

the plane descending for Cropper and kudos

touchdown
____________________­_

While the dawn storm blows,
Baghdad is calling
Soldiers stationed at the boundaries
The houses are on blaze!
Still,
Desert wind is blowing so unkind!

While the white ghost’s laughs,
Baghdad is crying
Bombs and shells blustered in the cities
The huts are in flames!
Still,
Desert wind is blowing so unkind!

While the dusk light fades,
Baghdad is burning
Sounds of boots repeat at the villages
The Mosque is crowded!
Still,
Desert wind is blowing so unkind!

While the dark night falls.
The debris of war is floating
Date palms line alone the shore in grief
The women are being *****!
Still,
Desert wind is blowing so unkind!

While the dawn wind blows,
Mother’s breast bleeds
Troupes watch in silence from top
Blood is remixed with soil !
Still,
Desert wind is blowing so unkind !

While the dusk light fades.
Pregnant Mother’s are lamenting,
Armored men near the entry ports.
Father lost, Mother ***** !
Still,
Desert wind is  blowing so unkind !

___________________­___
By
Williamsji Maveli
email
williamsji@yahoo.com
www.williamsgeorge.com
www.moon­makers.com
_________________­_____
Poetry dates all the way back to the beginnings of Humanity. People have always been questioning nature, and the day-to-day existence of themselves and other humans love, death, survival, war, injustice, and the universe are all examples of things that have been questioned by men and woman since the roots of human existence. Whether in nursery rhyme, ballad, jingle, rhyme, anthem, or music,people have found poetry to be an outlet for expressing these questions, sensations, and experiences
People often associate it with strict rhyming patterns, complicated vocabulary, hidden iconic meanings, and difficult rhythmical conventions. Poetry is even taught in school to be an intricate, complicated, inexplicable puzzle. True, poetry is difficult. Sure, it can be harder to understand
than prose. However, that is only because sometimes it is involved with your inescapable complexities and uncertainties of your existence.
Related links of Williamsji Maveli
www.williamsji.com
*
This poem is dedicated to the innocent MOTHER'S  & CHILDREN
who had died/ sacrificed their life in Iraq war.
WILLIAMSJI MAVELI
www.williamsji.com
Henry Yarbrough Jun 2013
Oh ,tyrant king of Babylon
Have you come by any sense
Who wages war on sons of Zion
With inadequate air defense

Toy soldiers of the eagle
Will come as dogs of war
Their guise being benevolence
Their true gift blood and gore

So it seems your problem is oil
Not consummation of lnnocence
Go plant your people in thirsty soil
Then propagandize self defense

For you are the beast of Baghdad
Your very seed affronts Mann and his kind
Another  American jackal  gone bad
And oh, what a jackal did we find

Now we sit glued to a TV set
Watching the towers crumble and fall
When sleeping with despots ya get what you get
Just part of the cost when america stands tall. Hy
Ayad Gharbawi Jan 2010
Hi;

This is not a poem.

But given the infernal catastrophe that has befallen, I just think it is time for you Americans to listen to us people living 'out there'.

Here are my thoghts, that I submit to you with respect;


HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE: A HISTORIC MOMENT FOR AMERICA TO CHANGE ITS MISSION

Ayad Gharbawi

January 19, 2010 – Damascus, Syria


The recent Haitian earthquake is unusual in that it has destroyed the entire meagre ‘infrastructure’ of a so-called nation.
In fact, this 2010 earthquake succeeded in showing the world that the so-called ‘country’ of Haiti is nothing more than another piece of estate/land/property for a select, few oligarchs.
Anyway, the US response to this ecological/environmental holocaust that has befallen upon Haiti has been unprecedented.
America, under President Barack Hussein Obama, has behaved impeccably in Haiti.
The brilliance in Obama’s aid for Haiti is successful precisely because he has avoided previous attempts by the US to help on the basis of ‘humanitarian’ grounds, when those grounds happened to also include conflicts raging within them.
Obama avoided the mistake of getting America involved in a humanitarian crises that existed within a civil war – like what happened in Lebanon (1982-83), Somalia (1991-3), Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1999).
I write this article because I, as an outsider, wish ardently, to speak to you Americans.
Today, you Americans have the choice: either to follow the militaristic, expansionist policies of the US President, Theodore Roosevelt, or you may follow the path of the first morally-guided President of the US - Woodrow Wilson.
I urge you Americans to leave all countries where there are civil wars – such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and so on.
Let these countries do whatever their people wish to do against each other.
Instead, allow your great arsenal of democracy to help and intervene on humanitarian missions – in countries wherein there are no civil wars – such as you have been doing so magnificently in Haiti.
Use your power, your wealth, your US Army, Air Force, and Navy to help humans who need the helping hand of succour.
I tell you, that you Americans, once you adopt this peaceful, moral foreign; policy, you shall see that your enemies will fade.
Taleban have told you repeatedly, and have repeatedly contacted to you, telling you that they are engaged in an Afghani civil war. So why do you intrude?
Al Qaeda have told you repeatedly if you leave the Middle East, then they have no quarrel with you.
Why can you Americans not accept or understand that so long as you do not invade, occupy or create military bases in foreign lands, no one, and no organization and no party and no country will see you as an enemy?
This is a moment for you Americans do finally break off from the Theodore Roosevelt Principle (TRP) which is to attack, ****, slaughter and occupy any country you think is ‘worth it’.
And, at the same time, it is also a moment in history, when you can fully embrace the Woodrow Wilson Principle (WWP) of a foreign policy that is based on morality.
What you have done and what you are doing in Haiti is a pure act of WWP.
I believe the entire Third World applauds you and loves you for what your men and women are doing for the innocent victims of Haiti.
But, then, when other men and women, scream and shriek, saying: “Look at what these Americans are doing! They ****, butcher and ****** Afghans in order to support corrupt, drug dealing gangsters such as Hamid Karzai who, themselves, cannot control and, in any case, are not interested in ‘controlling’ their own country! So what else can you think of America’s real intentions?”
And what a good emotion-fuelled question, indeed.
What are you Americans doing fighting, losing American and Afghani blood in order to basically prop up and support criminal regimes such as the Karzai regime, whose only raison d’etre is to make profits through their various ‘business’ activities?
The more you Americans fight what are perceived as unjust, colonialist wars, the more you will create terrorists. It is a never ending cycle!
I argue and I passionately believe, that you Americans can do this. If only you US statesmen and stateswomen finally decide to adopt the beautiful, clean mantle of morality in your foreign policy.
Obviously, I do not have enough space to express my ideas and reasons. So, let me be clear: I am not advocating a slavish enactment of Wilsonian principles.
For, as an example, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the US had to make a military move, because no country can allow a sick dictator to control so much of the world’s oil. There are clear instances when aggression abroad can seriously threaten US interests. But, in truth, the vast majority of the wars you Americans entered, were unnecessary: you did not need to go beyond the Yalu in 1950 in Korea; you did not need to enter the North-South Vietnamese Civil War.
Take Kosovo: yes massacres were committed on all sides. But you did not need to bomb Serbia. First and foremost, that should and must have been a problem for European powers to solve. Secondly, Kosovo was never vital for US interests. And the fact is, Kosovo could never be a so-called ‘state’. Today, it is nothing more than a geographical area run by warlords, drug dealers and other gangsters who each carve out their own territory. Was that piece of gangster-run land worthy of killing Serbians? No!
Take North Korea: let Russian, South Korea and Japan deal with that abnormal so-called state. Why do you spend money on your troops and camps there? It is not in your interests and yes, North Korea does not threaten you Americans!
The same goes for Iraq in 2003 – you did not need to invade that country for the simple reason that Baghdad posed no threat to its neighbours, and certainly no threat to Europe or to the US.  Again, you should have let the Iraqis themselves solve whatever problems they have on their fragmented plate.
You must see and feel that US lives are not expendable for pointless and futile foreign adventures.
America should help those who have suffered environmental catastrophes and who are in a war-free zone.
America should help stable, developing nations where accountability starts from Washington and right back in – Washington.
And yes, of course, America should only use its military might if it is directly threatened by any person, nation or organization.
And to reduce this hatred that has spawned against you: I tell you, a voice from a wilderness, one mute krill from amongst billions yearning for exactly what I yearn for, I tell you: remove your military bases from Europe, Japan, South America, the Gulf, and anywhere else. These military bases are seen by people as ‘evidence’ of occupation. You do not need to keep these costly outposts. Remove them. Reduce your military presence that, in any way, has no effect, except to increase fanaticism and anger amongst your people. This is especially so in the Gulf, where your presence angers the people – leave those countries and yes, you will then reduce your costs, which is obviously beneficial to you Americans.
Instead of military compounds and bases, why not enthusiastically create consortiums of companies to build American schools, universities, hospitals, housing projects and get involved in building infrastructure projects in nations that have good accountability, so no money is wasted and so can never go, instead, straight to the pockets of the leaders.
Build the world; use your superpower might to create hope in broken nations, and that effort will, in turn, build love and you shall see, your enemies shall decrease and your military costs will decrease and your building projects will bring you greater revenues.
The choice is yours: follow a Wilsonian foreign policy or a Theodore Roosevelt foreign policy.
I hope the Haitian earthquake catastrophe has shed some light on which path US foreign policy should take.

Ayad Gharbawi
RAJ NANDY Jul 2016
Dear Poet Friends, our World today & especially Europe is threatened with terrorism from the religious fundamentalist groups like the ‘IS’ ! History teaches us that during the Middle Ages the Holy Crusades were launched with the combined forces of Christendom. May be History is repeating itself once again within a span of thousand years! Do kindly read with patience this True Story of the Holy Crusades in Verse, to see events in its proper historical perspective. Concluding portion as Part Two has also been posted here. You will find the portion on ''Motivation & The Medieval Mind'' to be interesting! Kindly take your time to read at leisure. No need to comment in a hurry please! Thanks, - Raj

               STORY OF THE HOLY CRUSADE: (1096-1099)
                                           PART ONE

                                       INTRODUCTION
For thousands of years the Holy Lands of Palestine on the eastern coast
of the Mediterranean Sea had witnessed,
Ferocious battles fought between the Christians, Jews, and the Muslims,
with much bloodshed;
For a strip of land few hundred miles in length and varying between some hundred miles in breadth,
Which they all righteously defended!
There the Ancient City of Jerusalem now stands as a World Heritage Site,
Sacred to the three of World’s oldest Religions and as their pride!
Jerusalem today is a symbol of unity amidst its religious diversity;
For on its Dome of the Rock, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Synagogues, are etched thousand years of Ancient History.
In 1096, Pope Urban the Second, motivated Christendom and launched the First Holy Crusade,
To liberate Jerusalem from 461 Years of MUSLIM dominance!
Some Historians have listed a total of Nine Crusades in all,
And I commence with the FIRST, being the most important of all;
For it recaptured Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks making it fall. (in 1099AD)
While subsequent Crusades did not make any appreciable dent at all!
Not forgetting the THIRD, led by King Richard ‘The Lion Heart’, -
Who made the Turk leader Saladin to agree,
For Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy shrines in Jerusalem and the Hills of Calvary.
The Crusades began towards the end of the 11th Century lasting for almost Two hundred years;
Had later turned into a tale of sorrow and tears!
Now to understand the Crusades in its proper perspective let us see,
The brief historical background of Europe during the early parts of
Second Millennium AD.

                         A BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Normans:
During the first century of the Second Millennium, Europe was in a formative stage,     (11th Century AD)
It had began to emerge from its long period of hibernation called the ‘Dark Age’!
The Viking raids from those northern Norsemen had ceased subsequently,
As they became Christian converts settling in Northern France in the Duchy of Normandy.
In 1035 when Robert the Devil, 5th Duke of Normandy died on his way
to Jerusalem during a Holy Pilgrimage;
His only son William, who was illegitimate, was only seven years of age.
By 1063 AD these Norman settlers had intermingled and expanded their lands considerably,
By conquering Southern Italy and driving the Muslims from the Island of Sicily.
And in 1066 Robert’s son William shaped future events, -
By defeating King Harold at Hastings and by uniting England.
Now William the Conqueror’s eldest son Robert the Duke of Normandy,
Participated in the First Holy Crusade, which has become both Legend
and a part of History!
These Normans though pious, were also valiant fighters,
And became the driving force behind the Crusades from 11th Century
onward !

                     MUSLIM CONQUEST AND EXPANSION
After the death of Prophet Mohammad during 7th Century AD,
Muslim cavalry burst forth from Arabia in a conquering spree!
They soon conquered the Middle East, Persia, and the Byzantine
Empire;
And in 638 AD they occupied the Holy city of Jerusalem and
Palestine entire!
Beginning of the 8th Century saw them crossing the Gibraltar Strait,
To occupy the Iberian Peninsula by sealing ruling Visigoth’s fate!
Crossing Spain soon they knocked on the gates of Southern France,
When Charles Martel in the crucial Battle of Tours halted their rapid
advance!  (Oct 732 AD)
By defeating the Moors, Martel confined them to Southern Spain,
And thereby SAVED Western Europe from Muslim dominance!
Charles Martel was also the grandfather of the Emperor Charlemagne.
The Sunni–Shiite split over the true successor of Prophet Muhammad,
and other doctrinal differences of Faith,
Had weakened the Muslim Empire till the Mongols sealed their fate!

                         THE SELJUK TURKS
Meanwhile around Mid-eleventh Century from the steppes of Central Asia,
Came a nomadic tribe of Seljuk Turks and occupied Persia!
In 1055 they captured Baghdad and took the Abbasid Caliph under their Protectorate.
The Persian poet Omar Khayyam, and the great Rumi the mystic sage,
Had also flourished during this Seljuk Age!
In 1071 at the Battle of Manzikirt the Seljuks defeated the Byzantines
and occupied entire Anatolia,     (now Turkey)
And set up their Capital there by occupying Nicaea!
Deprived of their Anatolian ‘bread basket’ the Byzantine Emperor
Alexius Comnenus the First,
Appealed to Pope Urban II to save him from the scourge of those
Seljuk Turks!
The Seljuk Turks had also occupied Jerusalem and entire Palestine,
And prevented the Christian pilgrims from visiting its Holy Shrines!
The Seljuk, who converted to Islam, became staunch defenders of the
Muslim faith,
And played an historic role during the First Two Holy Crusades!

THE CHURCH AND THE SECULAR STATE (11th Century) :
The ecclesiastic differences and theological disputes between Western (Latin) and Eastern(Greek Orthodox) Church,
And the authority over the Norman Church at Sicily;
Resulted in the Roman and Constantinople Churches
ex-communicating each other in 1054 AD!
This East-West Schism was soon followed by the ‘Investiture Controversy’,
Over the right to appoint Bishops and many other doctrinal complexities;
Between Pope Gregory VII and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV  
of Germany.
Here I have cut short many details to spare you some agony!
Pope Gregory was succeeded by Pope Urban the Second,
Who was a shrewd diplomat and a great orator as Rome’s Papal Head.
Pope Urban seized this opportunity and responded to the Byzantine
Emperor’s desperate call,
Hoping to add lands to his Papal Estate after the Seljuk Turks fall!
Also to reign in those errant knights and warlords, -
Who plundered for greed and as mercenaries fought!
And finally, by liberating Jerusalem as Christendom’s Religious Superior,
Pope Urban hoped to assert his authority over the Holy Roman Emperor!
It is therefore an unfortunate fact of History, that the news of re-conquest of Jerusalem failed to reach Italy;
Even though Pope Urban died fourteen days later,
on the 29th of July, in 1099 AD!

                 MOTIVATION AND THE MEDIEVAL MIND
The Medieval Age was the Age of Faith, which preceded the Age of Reason;
A God-centred world where to think otherwise smacked of treason!
It is rather difficult for us in our Modern times,
To fully comprehend the Early Medieval mind!
The Church was the very framework of the Medieval Society itself,
With their Monasteries and Abbeys as front-line of defence
against Evil;
While combating the deceptions and temptations of the Devil!
It was a mysterious and enchanted Medieval World where superstition
and ignorance was rife;
Where with blurred boundaries both the natural and the supernatural
existed side by side !
When education was confined to the Clergy and the Upper Class of
the Society exclusively;
In such a world the human mind was preoccupied with thoughts
of Salvation and piety;
And in an afterlife hoping to escape the pains of Purgatory!
So in Nov 1095 at the Council of Clermont in France,
When Pope Urban II made his clarion call to liberate the
Holy Lands from the infidels,
The massive congregation responded by shouting, “God Wills It”,
‘’God Wills It’’,  - which echoed beyond France!
The Crusade offered an opportunity to absolve oneself of sins,
And to even die a martyrs death for a Holy cause, which motivated
them from within!
Now for actual action kindly read the Concluding portion,
I tried to make it short and crisp!


    STORY OF THE HOLY CRUSADE : CONCLUSION
                                 PART TWO

THE  PEASANT’S CRUSADE (April-Oct 1096) :
Even before the First Crusade could get officially organized,
A Peasant’s Crusade of around forty thousand took-off,
taking Pope Urban by surprise!
When these untrained motley body of men led by the French
Lord Walter Sans Avoir, and Peter Hermit reached Constantinople;
They disappointed Emperor Alexius, who for seasoned Norman
Knights had bargained.
So Alexius ferried them to Anatolia across the Bosporus Strait,
Only to be massacred there by the hardy Seljuk Turks who sealed
their fate!
Thus ended the Peasant’s Crusade, also known as “The People’s
Crusade’’.
But Peter the Hermit survived as he had returned to Constantinople
for help,
And participated with the main Crusade, motivating them till the
very end,
With his sermons and prayers till their objectives were attained!

THE CRUSADE LEADERS AND THEIR ROUTES:
Now let me tell you about those Crusade Leaders and their routes,
For this true story to be better understood.
In the Summer of 1096 French nobles and seasoned knights,
along with Bishop Adhemar the Papal Legate,
Set out in large contingents by land and sea routes, forming the
Christian Brigade!
Their rendezvous point being Constantinople, capital of the
Byzantine Empire,
And from there across the Bosporus to enter Turkey then known
as Anatolia;
To finally take on the Seljuk Turks, in response to the request  
made by Emperor Alexius.
Raymond the IV of Toulouse, the senior-most and richest of
the Crusaders,
Was an old veteran who had fought the Moors in Spain was one of
the Crusade leaders.
He brought the largest army and was accompanied by the Papal Legate, and his wife Elvira,
And later played a major role in the siege of Antioch, and Nicea.
Raymond along with the veteran and pious bachelor knight
Godfrey of Bouillon, who became the First Ruler of Jerusalem
after its capture and fall;
Was accompanied by Godfrey’s ambitious brother Baldwin and
a large contingent, -
They followed the land route to Constantinople.
The fierce Norman knight Bohemond of Taranto, along with
Robert II Duke of Flanders, and the Norman knights from
Southern Italy,
Followed the sea route to Byzantium from the Italian port of Bari.
I have mentioned here only a few, to cut short my story!
At Constantinople Emperor Alexius, administered a Holy Oath of
allegiance to the Crusade Leaders;
Hoping to win back his captured lands after the defeat of the
Seljuk Turks.

THE SIEGE OF NICEA (14th May – 19th Jun 1097) :
This captured Byzantine City was then the Seljuk Capital;
With 200 towers its mighty walls was a formidable defence!
Emperor Alexius sent his army to help the Crusaders in the siege,
And by blockading the food supply lines the city was besieged;
In the absence of the City’s ruler who had gone on a campaign
to the East, -
Alexius’ Generals secretly worked out a negotiation of surrender
and peace!
The Crusaders were angry and felt they were being cheated,
But Alexius gave them money, horses, and gifts to get them
compensated!
On the 26th of June the Crusader army was split into two contingents,
And the Turks ambushed and surrounded the vanguard led by Bohemund the Valiant.
Turk cavalry shooting arrows mauled part of the vanguard,
When the rearguard of Godfrey, and Baldwin charged in
and rescued them from the Turks!
Historians call this the Battle of Dorylaeum;  (1st Jul 1097)  
It was the first major battle  which provided a taste of
things to come!

SIEGE OF EDESSA:
Next a three month’s long and arduous march followed
under the sweltering Summer’s heat,
When five hundred lost their lives due to sheer fatigue!
Baldwin lost his wife God Hilda, a rich heiress;
Now with all her wealth going back to her blood line
as per tradition of those days,
Placed ambitious Baldwin under great mental and financial
distress!
So Baldwin with a few hundred knights headed East for the
rich Christian city of Edessa,
With intentions of claiming it as his own after the loss of his
wife Hilda!
The citizens there backed Baldwin and gave him an Armenian
Christian lady to be his wife,
And against their old childless Ruler Thoros, they plotted to
take his life!
It was not a great start for the idealism of the Crusade,
Since motivated by greed Baldwin had carved out his own
State;
While Edessa also became the First State to be established
by the Holy Crusade!

THE SIEGE OF ANTIOCH  (21 Oct 1097- 02 Jun 1098) :
Antioch was an old Roman city built around 300 BC,
Its six gates and towers fortified the city.
Its formidable walls were built by the Byzantine Emperor
Justinian the First,
And twelve years prior to the arrival of the Crusaders,
Antioch had got occupied by the Turks!
In the absence of a Centralised Command, the Crusade leaders
frequently argued and quarrelled;
Since the majority preferred a siege, so Antioch got finally
surrounded.
When food supply ran short during the winter, both
starvation and desertion plagued the Crusaders;
While Antioch’s Governor Yagi-Siyan appealed for
assistance from his distant brothers the Turks.
He tied messages on legs of trained homing pigeon,
A unique postal service of those early days!
End May 1098 brought news of a large Muslim army
commanded by Emir Kerbogha,
Had set course from Mosul to liberate Antioch from
the Crusaders!
The Crusaders now had to break in fast into Antioch,
or face those 75,000 strong Turkish force!
The Twin Towers on the southern side was manned by
an Armenian Christian Muslim convert named Firuz,
Who was bribed by Bohemund to betray Antioch!
Firuz let down rope ladders for the Crusaders to climb
inside,
And a massacre followed late into the ****** night!
Next day Emir Kerbogha’s troops arrived and the
situation got reversed,
The attackers now lay besieged by those Seljuk Turks!
After fifty-two days of trying siege food supply ran out,
Morale of the Crusaders were rather low, and some even
feared a route!
Now buried in the Church of St. Peter, Peter Bartholomew
the French priest found the ‘Holy Lance’,
About which he had a vision in advance!
This find raised the morale of the Crusaders, and some
even went into a spiritual trance!
For Peter claimed this ‘Holy Relic’ had pierced Christ’s body
after his Crucifixion;
And the Crusading army now moved out of the city in full
battle formation!
Soon after the Turkish army of Kerbogha retreated fearing
devastation!
This victory has been attributed to God and His miraculous
intervention!

                     LIBERATION OF JERUSALEM
After the conquest of Antioch in June 1098, the Crusaders
stayed on till the year got completed.
Though the death of the Papal Legate in August got them
rather depressed;
While Bohemund of Taranto took over Antioch, which now
became the Second Crusader State;
And Raymond of Toulouse became the undisputed Leader
of The Crusade!
Next travelling through Tripoli, Beirut, Tire and Lebanon;
To liberate Bethlehem they sent off Tancred, and Baldwin
of Le Bourg.
On the 5th of June they liberated Bethlehem, and on the
Seventh of June they reached the gates of Jerusalem!
Facing acute shortage of food and water their initial attack
failed to materialise,
When priest Peter Desiderius’ vision of the deceased Papal
Legate came as a pleasant surprise!
This vision commanded them to fast, atone for their sins and
make amends,
By walking barefoot in prayer around the Holy City of Jerusalem!
After a final assault on the 15th of July 1099, they broke into
the City,
Killing all Muslims and Jews with impunity!
Pious Godfrey of Bouillon refusing to wear the crown, became
the First Ruler of this Third Crusader State;
And objectives of the Crusaders were finally attained!
With the formation of warrior monks of ‘Hospitallers’ and
‘Knight Templers’, wearing White and Red Crosses respectivel
RELEVANT LESSONS CAN BE DRAWN FROM PAST HISTORY!
B  May 2013
The Silk Engineer
B May 2013
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— The End —