Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bushland ballads

Far in bushland, away from the loud light
Of street illuminations and the city night,
Under a dark blanket sprinkled with pinprick sparks
That blaze tiny glows deep into the outer reaches, stark
Of a universe without ending,
Only a continual beginning, a sound
That booms infinitely on
 Into night to day that changes around
We are a grain held in sand cupped in a hand
Of the ancient Holy One, poured out and in again
Through the dimensions of space - place and time meeting.
The flames burst forth, a warm glow, rich and alive
On a solid menorah of metal bound, silver or gold,
The oil, fruit of a hardy tree, flares up from glass cups, their blaze strives
To bring light as truth shining into this long night of thievery and injustice.

So far removed from dead pines cut and transported on trucks,
To houses where they stand in crepe covered buckets, spun with tinsel strings
Plastic fairies or angels perched at their peaks,
Like the idols of old along with coloured balls that tend to break
Into dangerous shards able to tear tender flesh.
Children are told over and over
Of a white bearded fat man wearing a red suit
Come rain, hail, summer heat or sleet
Who travels in a sky sled around the world in one night,
Defining good and evil in each child
Through the parents’ sight
A metaphor for justice who gives
 To the worthy; to those wanting, each in their measure
For you there is the cat’o’nine tails  and you there is treasure
A cunning device built on a scale for ancient myths
To explain the unexplainable.
Under this dead symbol of living, are placed temporary tokens
Of esteem and good will just for the day
When families gather to gobble ham bone and roasts lashed with gravy, gluttony reigns
Beer and sherry abundant for adults, soft drink or shandies for children
Who compare gifts and judge the givers’ worth
On a family stock market
Where affection is measured on the scale of each dollar spent
And means a rise or fall in the affections bank.
To finish with wine trifle, size up the family members
Store away thoughtless remarks to stew angrily over the year
Berate your children that they do not become
like stinky older uncles who sit in offices all day.
‘you are just like him. You will never get married.
Don’t eat too much ice cream. See, you have a fat bottom already.
All he does is watch birds all day.
Here give him some deodorant soap and spray.
Wrap it well.  Be sure to put “enjoy in good health”
Neatly inside the card. Your best writing now.’
Or uncles with corks attached to battered hats,
Who play real stock markets and guzzle beer
Married to an interesting aunt in tight leopard skin who slithers
Her thigh next to your father’s leg and looks up into his eyes
 With an inviting look and loud laugh
That he does not see and only half hears,
Intent on discussing livestock markets with his older half brother,
He is busy with next year’s sheep and cattle prices
Besides he is already well married to your mother
In a contract so binding he would not look at another,
Thus she preens for another brother, Jezebel
With a ring that sparkles for naught.
The tree is thrown out and another cut next year.
Paper litters the carpet and is gathered and sorted,
The torn for the bin and the whole folded and kept for birthdays and another year.
The day is swept away for another twelve months.
However in another space,
The menorah is used for eight days, a flame that brings redemption
Is lit each day to increase, one by one until eight is reached.
Dreidels are played and gelt given, latkes fried in oil enjoyed,
Children laugh and sing in that warm glow.

Then after the eighth day, the menorah is cleaned and packed away.
The sight of the flame held within, a hope, a pinprick of light holds tight against the night,
That yearns for a better day to dawn, when all men will join together
To form a holy alliance of true peace
To recognize One as G-D of justice and truth
Then will they put aside the tinsel, plastic angels and cards
The yearly rite of a shallow generosity
To take on a whole creed that requires
Daily attendance and reckonings,
 Not just annually.

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