Plea by Joe Dees


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Pick a place.
A horrible place.
Beirut, Fallujah,
Darfur, Kandahar,
Does it matter?
Then pick a time.
A terrible time.
Noon or midnight,
Sunset or dawn.
All of them matter,
None of them matter,
But choose.
For children are dying,
Mothers are crying,
And the fair flower of human youth
Kill them and kill each other.

And we are responsible.
All of us are responsible;
Blinkered shepherds and
blinded sheep.
Washington.
Moscow.
Rome.
Tehran.
Beijing.
Jerusalem.
Pyongyang.
All of us who believe
That our mothers’ tears,
Their childrens’ dying fears,
And the future of the
Fair flower of human youth
Are less precious
Than phantoms
Floating in our heads.

Religions. Ideologies.
What’s the difference?
Can faith be fondled
Like a bomb-vest trigger?
Can politics be held
And hefted in the hand
Like a soldier holds a gun?
Will theories some day force
A finger to the final button?

How can these wraiths be
Felt like life’s breath passing?
What song can they compel
That so mesmerizes one's ears
That they will not flinch
From the crying of an unfed child?
How can dogmatic shadows
Taste more substantial than tears?
Can they be seen and touched
Like the spilled life’s blood
Of the fair flower of human youth
Forever deprived of their futures?
Can they speak with the
Eloquent tongue of human misery?

Or, trapped within
Our hellish din
Of doctrinal ideas
Can simple human misery
Hold value or meaning
For people any more?

But we do not speak,
And we do not listen.
Have we lost our voices,
And our ears?
And is it just a dream
That we will all
Some day stop demanding
That all others heed us -
Speak with our throats and
Phrase our phantoms -
Or fall forever silent?