10-1 poetry

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.


A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

10.4 (Fall 2010)



courtesy of artrenewal.org

Featured poet: Michael H. Lythgoe   

Buddha Is Not Bullet-Proof

The gods are fighting for our minds.

Along the Silk Road, Buddha entered

A cave, grew tall in sandstone.

Buddha also lived in blue frescoes.

Now the gods are at war again.

Muslim warriors have defaced

The Bamiyan Buddhas. Caves once

Meditation cells are now ammo dumps.

Islam’s minarets aim like rocket launchers

O the gods are at war again.

Afghanistan, long before the Cold War,

Armed for the Great Game. The art

Of hated images is mortared.

Buddha is a martyr bombed and shelled.

So the gods target artillery on our minds.

The Buddhas in Bamiyan blacken

In the smoke of burning tires.

Buddha crumbles before the Taliban

Drilling holes in sandstone sculptures.

O how the gods do fight for our minds.

Rival Mujaheddin riddle artifacts.

Banished Buddha is a refugee,

A stranger unable to flee Kalashnikovs.

The final minaret of a college falls.

The gods lob grenades at our minds.

Buddha cannot save blue frescoes,

Nor the blue tiles of the mosque.

As the slice of mortal moon expires,

The warlords are setting off mines.

The gods are losing their minds.


Spanish memory of flowers & leather:

Reflect on feet in boots feeling cobblestones

Beneath the sun-face carved along a river

Running over the ruins of the Romans,

Forever rotating water wheel in Guadalquiver.

The winding way of a whitewashed alley

Shaded by shadows gives off flowery

Scents of hand-scrubbed dawns

Old as olive trees, orange groves gone

To perfumes in courtyards fabled as Arabia.

Your stories are of rogues asleep

In tiny doorways defending stones

Handset pebble by pebble–a keep

Striped in Arabic as La Mezquita,

Painted for harems now gone Catholic.

From the garden on the roof

A lantern lights the vino blanco

Of her face beneath the lace’s

Wrought iron tones–as four hoofs

Pray with bells; Raphael sings flamenco

To his horse’s ringing harness.

Spats’ hooves groove a romantic

Clatter–the call to El Caballo Rojo,

Rooftop rendezvous under bull-ring moon

On Street of Jews, Manolete’s home.

Leather city locks the walls’ gates ornate,

Guards imprison blooms before they fall

Flooding Calle De Las Flores, white walls.

Moorish moods are hand-tooled in your hide;

Ride with Seneca, Moors, Andalusian pride.

No Escape From Violence For The Summer Solstice

Some of the oldest words in verse praise

The copper tones on the walls of Uruk;

Gilgamesh first put fortress walls into words.

Yesterday, near Kabul, Afghanistan,

A journalist slipped his Taliban captors;

He scaled the wall of his compound.

Iran freed a woman after she prayed to God;

She once thought God had abandoned her–

Like the Spiritual: Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

Roxana Saberi saw the strength of other women in prison

Cells. Clerics are divided over stoning; who will cast first

Blindfold the women. Interrogations on the longest day.

She learns to play the piano on her cell walls,

To sing the Star Spangled Banner to keep up her spirits.

Navy snipers freed a captain from pirates. Escapes teach.

1 of 3 lowland gorillas in a SC zoo learned to reach

Bamboo to get over the wall; he ambled about, free to rough-up

A pizza man & growl at a mother with her son in a stroller.

The mother rattled the gorilla, so he returned to his jailer,

Climbed back over the wall, returned to the comfortable

Life he knew behind bars. Blue birds love being boxed-in;

Females shuttle to sustain beaks behind the hole.

Parrots torment caretakers for attention until freed.

See each stone as a word, as a witness in the wall.

Voting is the theme in green; counting is the scheme in Tehran.

Missiles are aimed at Hawaii. A murder of crows: chador-

Clad supporters for the Supreme Leader in black turban.

Stylish head scarves protest batons with camera phones.  Neda

 died on video for reforms, shot by Basij militia on rooftop.

Two reporters were captured wading into North Korea;

Freed by a “Dear Leader.” Hikers arrested in Iran. A shooter

Killed the longest day. Neda told her music teacher: “ I’m burning.”

What will the walls say about that woman in Myanmar?


Hail & Farewell, Scarecrow

How prudent, how seasonal

Is the frenzied squirrel;

How like brass studs

Are the melons on the hill.

Hail & Farewell, O Scarecrow,

Solitary & bedraggled

Sentry of the rows

Picked over; fields lie fallow

In the fall as the maple

Leaves go red hot

Before rushing off in wrinkles.

How brassy the sycamore.

Hail, Scarecrow, farewell-

Staked out near chrysanthemums,

Indian corn & pumpkins,

In burlap, straw, patches & bandana.

Soon, you–who

Frightens no more crows–

You will move on.

Scarecrows & migrations

Have their reasons

For lingering, posturing,

Playing roles on poles

For Halloween & harvest.

The westerly breeze

Brings long needles down,

From pine trees, straw

Painting brown grounds green.


Lt. Col. Michael Lythgoe (USAF, Rtd.) has interviewed poets and produced his own poetry for many years, being published both as a commentator and an artist in such journals as Christianity and Literature.