J.B. Mulligan

death of a monster

The soldiers came, and you tried to crawl away,

and fell into a darkened room

where bodiless, white-eyed heads with sharpened teeth

circled and lunged and tore at you.

They moaned and prayed and cursed you – and their hair

was combed and oiled by giggling virgins.

But worse than that, the blade of God's disdain

forever sawing at your throat.


Your family, somewhere, wept

when they heard that you had died.

They saw the boy you'd been –

as someone I know has seen

the father of his childhood,

lost beneath fallen stones,

smiling a vanished smile.

We bleed the same hot blood –

and I will not weep for yours.

Your children, stiff with grief,

are better than you deserve,

unless they snatch up the savage knife

and go screaming for random throats.


We're home to a savage thing, torn

by each other, by the heart's

crude claw, digging out of the chest

to unfurl its crooked wings

in the moon-silvered air,

to squeak and hunt the small,

to soar and cut in the night

away from the sun's

hot and merciless, always-tearing hand.


Part of my mind (the Christian part,

and some of Islam also can try)

wants to comprehend your pain,

an understanding I'll never feel

you've earned -- and that is not for you

(there's nothing I have that is for you),

but keeping caged the potential beast

in me -- or trying to keep it caged –

or only letting it out to hunt

whatever needs to be hunted....  But

to keep the way to avoid the sin

your hunt became (or always was).


The risk is forced:  one path cuts up the mountain

ragged as lightning, waiting to be walked

away from the torrential thundering rise

of blood-dark currents, up through crashing falls

where slipping means I may fall to your depth

and earn the curse I happily pour on you.

There is, perhaps, a stretch of calm beyond,

clear water, cool to the throat, and to the face.

And then further climbing, endless, needed.

J.B. Mulligan © 2011

summa humanitis

Women dead with coat hangers in them.

Fetuses like deli scraps.

Christ on our cross, we offer you

the best that we have,

the most we can do.

In the valley of the damned,

even the carrion demons

snarled in the shadows, starving.

from far away

It's easy to bray and roar

for distant troops to die

for glory and for us.

It's harder to hold back.

But that is not what makes

it right to spend their blood,

their families and time.

To spill this carefully,

to hoard these willing gems

till cause can make it good...

not pride or noise or flag,

but stone necessity --

that is when to set

the lions out to roar.

parade of the victims

Everyone’s a nigger now.

Or a Jew.  Or a Palestinian

being killed by the Jews

being killed by....

I would be one myself,

but even I couldn’t

quite swallow that one.

(And what if I forget

the way back,

the secret password?)

So many dead, bleeding,

raped, hacked like melons:

Armenians, Tutsi, Irish –

history is a spike-furred,

drooling wolf above the throat

of somebody helpless:

a long, frail form, arms

akimbo, clothing torn,

a figure from Goya,

but somebody real,

whose child died

moments later.

The calibrations of pain

give us numbers, and blur

the true and global agony,

And the tender, selfish heart

knows what only it can feel

beneath the armor of the skin.

The pain of another is distant sadness.

Even a lover hides behind eyes:

how can we capture a stranger

with such frail, inadequate arms.

on rotting vines

children lit and thrown

sweet bombs     brief stars

hatred flaming in innocents

such fertile soil     eager

for the seeds of the future

but poured into an empty past

and lit     and thrown away

J.B. Mulligan © 2011