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.
P R A E S I D I U M
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.
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.