prophets and poets

Gabriel walks the streets,
an Angel of the Lord dressed in the skin of man,
but police are too afraid of his black skin,
or when he appears as a Native American,
speaking loudly at Standing Rock,
holding up a sign at a Black Matters Protest.
Gabriel attends the protests and the meetings,
a man of god with the fiery strength of his,
trying to make a difference in this suffering world,
knowing that all man are created equal
and yet they beg to differ arguing over each other.
Gabriel is a woman protesting for feminism,
here, there, everywhere that Gabriel can speak,
but no one listens to this Angel of God,
shouting at Gabriel, “Not all Men”
and Gabriel screams back, “You have missed the point!”
Gabriel is a Buddhist nun who strives for peace,
wanting to bring humanity compassion and hope,
speaking regularly to the cameras like the Dalai Lama.
All Gabriel wants to do is bring humanity back to the fold,
to knowing that it is one with the cosmos,
but Gabriel’s message is drowned out in the bitter hate
and the anger and the skewing of media,
and humans lie and lie to each other,
breaking each other’s heart as they ignore
the suffering of enviornment, animal, and fellow man.
Gabriel appears as Prophet among the men,
but no one listens, they just turn their ears away
saying, God doesn’t exist and why should they love their enemy
who has tried to oppress them and
didn’t God do the same kind of shit that isn’t progressive?
Just look at the Bible they say
and they spew forth hate for each other,
never wanting to listen or feel.
—  Modern Gabriel
poetry request for anon
ciel knight

الله يرحمه , Kahlil Gibran.  The best-selling poet after Shakespeare and Laozi, Gibran was born in Lebanon to a Maronite family before emigrating to the United States of America in 1895 at the age of 12.  His works infuse the traditions of the Syriac Maronite Church as well as the mysticism of Sufism, and while critical acclaim did not follow The Prophet (26 verses of poetic prose) on its publication in 1923, popular acclaim did, and continues to do so–it has yet to be out of print since its original publication in the United States of America.  Also a gifted artist (he illustrated his own works), Gibran died on this date in 1931 at the age of 48.  Here’s one of his poems worth remembering:

“Pity the Nation” (composed c. 1912, published 1933)

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave and eats a bread it does not harvest.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: April 10, 1971
From: Beirut, Lebanon
MC #1129

Middle stamps:
Issued on: December 19, 1983
From: Beirut, Lebanon
MC #BL43

Stamps on bottom:
Issued on: April 30, 2008
From: Beirut, Lebanon
MC #BL53

Crystal Ball

Red oak fur
Against the golden bark
And an ocean of leaves
Like glitter of the sea

I know what you see
When you gaze
In that sphere
You see the storm

Turn rustling leaves
Into a tambourine
And pluck the strings
Of the trunks of the trees

I play the keys
In the crystal sea 

The sea
You see

I am the storm
Quake with me

Twenty three years of revelation, in one afternoon they ripped apart,
When they set alight the tents where Jibril used to descend;
The master of their nation, in fifty years had been forgotten,
When the Muslims slaughtered Muhammad’s grandson in Karbala.

i still hear you saying
one day you will know…
you will know what it is to be free

your words floated over my head
i frowned
analyzed the joy in your declaration
and couldn’t believe a word

you were a prophet
a speaker of the way and truth
only now do i see

my strength… my freedom
came from you
everything i have
everything that was yours
is mine


Shimmering beacons aligning the heavens
lighting the darkness greeting the dawn
flaming flashing fiery frenetic orbs
terribly distant, yet consistent reminders
of the chaotic void from whence we were born 
why then do philosophers, prophets and poets 
love stars, maybe it’s because
though seemingly so dramatically different
they’re our parents as well as ancestral homes
for children of them we each truly are   

Thank you Nikki for the invitation to play.  This was fun to write, and about as dangerously close to modern poetry, or stars as I dare get.  

Mythological Throwback Thursday: Apollo

For this week’s Mythological #TBT we’re focusing on Apollo, the Ancient Greek and Roman god of arts, healing and light!

Apollo was the son of Zeus and the minor goddess Leto, though he very nearly was not born. Hera was jealous of Zeus’ infidelity and cursed Leto so that she could not give birth on land. Everywhere she went, she was driven out by the land’s inhabitants. Finally she came to the floating island of Ortygia, where she had a long and painful labour– nine days and nine nights. At last, she gave birth to Apollo and his twin Artemis, goddess of the hunt. In recognition of the role of Ortygia its name was changed to Delos, and it was fixed to the seafloor with columns.

Of all the gods, Apollo’s interests were probably the broadest. He protected livestock and colonists, was the patron of doctors and prophets, musicians and poets. Cross him, however, and you could look forward to terrible plagues on you and your animals. Or you could do as Queen Niobe, who insulted Leto for only having two children. Apollo and Artemis came and killed all her sons and daughters. Nasty. Apollo also flayed a satyr alive for losing a music contest. Which he rigged.

Apollo led the Muses and directed their choir. He was fond of the lyre, and defeated Pan in another musical contest simply by playing a chord. (Must have been a power chord…) When Midas, a devotee of Pan, professed a preference for Pan’s playing, Apollo shot back that Midas must have the ears of an ass, and cursed Midas with donkey ears. Fair to say Apollo wasn’t the patron of critics…

As the patron of colonists, Apollo helped the Greeks found Troy, and enjoyed a good relationship with the city. When Chryseis, daughter of a Trojan priest of Apollo, was seized by the Greeks, Apollo fired plague-carrying arrows into the Greek encampment as punishment. He even assisted Paris with his poisonous attack on Achilles, guiding the arrow to Achilles’ heel.

That’s all for this week. But don’t stray far, Beyond Books’ newest tale is coming, and you won’t want to miss it, trust us.


‘I’m Not There’, Todd Haynes (2007)

There he lies. God rest his soul, and his rudeness. A devouring public can now share the remains of his sickness, and his phone numbers. There he lay: poet, prophet, outlaw, fake, star of electricity. Nailed by a peeping tom, who would soon discover… a poem is like a naked person. Even the ghost was more than one person…

…but a song is something that walks by itself.

What then,
if you heard the Word of God,
what then?
Would you preach on the
street corners of proud New York,
between the stalls of the
farmers market?
Would you rage upon the internet,
saying, “Hark! This is the Word of God!”
Or would you quietly consign
yourself to drugs and institutions?
Would you drown His Words out,
blasting metal to electronic,
to sirens and city lights,
the sounds of the New Age,
the Modern World?
What then would you do,
Modern Prophet,
would you speak or be silent?
—  What Then Modern Prophet? - ck

I named my angel Gabriel
because he delivers me messages from the most high,
and God is telling him that the rapture is coming
and my savior is a rush of holy headlights into mine.

I named my angel Gabriel
because he tells me
to devour
the divine,
and in turn
I’ll be devoured in a symphony of crushing
on a sacred Sunday night.

I named my angel Gabriel
because he has wings with blinking eyes,
and he won’t let me sleep
in the room that isn’t mine.

I named my angel Gabriel
because he spoke to a Mary before me,
though much less tainted than
he prophesied her powerful
but confessed to me that
the moment
of my greatness would
in the sound of tires on
bloody asphalt.

I named my angel Gabriel
because my God
didn’t answer,
so I gave this stentorian
within me a place next to my
so I’d go to heaven
even after flying through the
god damned windshield.

On unlearning prophets and becoming prophecy

1. All this praying
And God still hasn’t
Answered my wish.
I hear the bending of the trees.
The dark wind.
The soft whisper.
He is not going to give it freely.
There is electricity in the air
And ashes in the doorway
Of every monastery for miles.
He is going to test me first.
I am willing.

2. Forty days into this
And my head is empty.
Eyes too full of God to look.
My kitchen is a graveyard.
A testament to my sacrifice.
And like all holy ground
I have not set foot in it for ages.
The whispers come like ravens,
Like children weeping.

3. God has answered me,
But I am his weeping prophet
He says.
His second Isaiah.
All that he tells me
Reeks of viscera and war.

4. I have chewed his words
As communion.
My stomach is empty,
But I have tasted of God.

5. I do not wish to be a martyr,
But I do not wish to be forgotten.

6. No one believes me.
The things that I have seen.
The salt and fire at the end of it.
My mother held my fragile ribs
Between her hands the other day.
Weeping, she told me that God would
Never make me so hollow.

I told her that she must not know God.

7. This is my magic.
The doctors fill my throat with pills
And I resurrect them into porcelain.
I have not seen God’s face in weeks,
But at night I speak into the mirror
And he sends me shadows.

8. I do not think the shadows are from God.

9. He says he knows him, my God.
He says that he was his son,
And he loved Gods very much,
But that is why he betrayed him.
Tried to make himself more.
I told him that love
Is as much a balm as a poison.

The shadow man smiled.

10. He feeds me carrion.
The first thing my earthly body
Holds in weeks.
He tells me that God must
Love me very much.
I beam and ask him
How he knows.
“Because you seem very easy to love,
even as you are now”
I asked him what I was now.
“Decaying” he said.

11. The shadow man will not let me weep.

12. “You are a deceiver.”
I tell him when I see his wings.
“A liar. A murderer.
A king amoung thieves.”
“Yes.” He tells me.
“All this and more.
But this does not mean
I do not speak the truth.
You asked for enlightenment,
But God has made you a plaything.”
“And the ash?” I ask him.
“And the fire, the blood?
These too must be lies?”
I scoffed.
“No. I believe what I have seen.
What has made my heart weep.”
“These things are all true”
He tells me steadily.
“But he has shown you this
Knowing no one will believe you.
You are a prophet.
A foreteller.
A warning bell.
Come with me and I will make you a shaper of worlds.”

13. He has given me a choice.
The light I felt. That steady
Flickering glow like a
Refrigerator bulb
In darkness.
The heaviness of truth.
The weight of knowledge.
Or the dark ocean.
The sculptor’s hands.
A world of my own making.
A ribcage perhaps not so hollow
And without such a heavy heart.

14. I have always preferred the dark whisper.

15. There is a great crash outside
My bedroom window.
The sycamores are falling.
I know this. I do.
But I sit beneath my covers
With a smile of my face
At his anger.
My body, once emaciated
With fastings, weeks lost
In a vision filled haze, now
Regaining its healthy plump
I do not want to be a martyr.
I think.
So I will become the pyre’s flame.

16. My shadow visits me and I tell him
About my dream. The one
Where I pull myself out of water
And God hides his gun.
He does not smile.
He tells me no one should tell me
what payment is owed to them for love.
For the first time in a long time,
I understand.

17. At dawn, I unmade.
I said, “Let there be dark.”
And there was dark.
The shadow man
And I smiled.
For we were well pleased.

At night everyone would sleep
But Ali would the orphans seek
With a smile, He cured the weak
With a touch on the orphans cheek
Mawlah Oh Ali, touch on my head too
Surley we are all orphans after You!

- Fatima Abo Turab

19th Ramadan. The day ebn Muljam hit Imam Ali (as) during prayer and wounded Him.

here lies bob dylan
from behind
by trembling flesh
who after being refused by Lazarus,
jumped on him
for solitude
but amazed to discover
that he was already
a streetcar &
that was exactly the end
of bob dylan

he now lies in Mrs Actually’s
beauty parlor
God rest his soul
& his rudeness

two brothers
& a naked mama’s boy
who looks like Jesus Christ
can now share the remains
of his sickness
& his phone numbers

there is  no strength
to give away -
everybody now
can just have it back

here lies bob dylan
demolished by Vienna politeness -
which will now claim to have invented him
the cool people can
now write Fugues about him
& Cupid can now kick over his kerosene lamp -
bob dylan - killed by a discarded Oedipus
who turned
to investigate a ghost
& discovered that
the ghost too
was more than one person” 

Bob Dylan, Tarantula

Weekday Week: “Wednesday” and “Vatican”

Wednesday is derived from Old English wōdnesdæġ, although the -e- in the Modern English form is somewhat difficult to explain.  This goes back to the Proto-Germanic *Wōdanas dagaz meaning “Day of Odin”, which was used as a translation of the Latin dies Mercurii “Day of Mercury”, presumably due to both deities being associated with wisdom and learning.  Wōdan had a variant Wōdin, which lies behind the Old Norse Óðinn, reborrowed into English as Odin.  The -i- variant may have also existed in English, which would explain the -e- in Wednesday.

The name *Wōdanaz was related to the adjective *wōdaz meaning “excited”, “spirited”, “angry”, “furious”, “spirited”, “raging”.  An obsolete word “wood” meaning “mad” or “insane” descended from that stem, unrelated to the primary meaning of “substance that comes from trees”.  *wōdaz in turn derives from the Proto-Indo-European *weh₂t-, via Verner’s Law, meaning “excited”, “inspired”, “possessed”, “raging”.

A derivative *weh₂t-is became Latin vātēs meaning “prophet”, “seer”, “poet”, “oracle”, which formed the basis of the verb vāticinor “I prophecy”, “I fortell”, etc.  From this verb was formed the word vāticānus, which was the name of one of the seven hills surrounding Rome, from the fact that prophecies would be given there.  Vatican City is, of course, named after that hill.