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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Poem 011

No Heaven
-----------------------------Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,

Hard rain, flash floods,
green sky, ball-sized hail,
earthquake, tsunami,
bodies, bodies—

-----------------------------While we all sup sorrow with the poor;

capitalism, Marxism—
does it really matter which
to the mom who gives up her baby
to adoption, or abortion,

-----------------------------There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;

because she can’t afford
a cup of milk, or any good book,
and can’t wait any longer for Isaiah’s
invitation to arrive?

-----------------------------Oh hard times, come again no more.

She figures it got lost in the mail,
or was never meant for her anyway.

-----------------------------There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,

And the woman wrapped
in her pimp’s unending
covenant, one she didn’t ask for
when snatched, years ago,

-----------------------------With a worn heart whose better days are o'er.

from her Haitian village
amid her daily chore,
pail filled with water,
left behind, spilling out.

-----------------------------Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,

Displayed beneath Amsterdam’s red lights,
in a shop window,
she stands with other women plucked
from poverty’s tangled vines.

-----------------------------Oh, hard times, come again no more.

Or the man, memory of his priest’s private
part impeding his reach for the bread of life

-----------------------------While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,

he craves, boy within
searching, always, for salvation.
And another boy, this one
hammering the quarry in India,

-----------------------------There are frail forms fainting at the door;

feeling as if the rocks were embedded
in his back, his arms and legs electric
with agony, his labor never satisfying
his owner, his father, himself.

-----------------------------Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say

O, the kidnapped girls in Nigeria—
if we can’t hear them dropping
to the ground, one by one,
like pines in a Maine forest,

-----------------------------Oh, hard times, come again no more.

does that mean they no longer exist,
or their fate is not tragic or true?

-----------------------------'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,

Can you hear ethnic cleansing’s anthem groaning?
If we scrub people from the Earth like mildew
do the promises disappear, too?
What deliverance for the Sudanese?

-----------------------------Hard Times, hard times, come again no more.

Is there no heaven for them?
No heaven for we who devour
our processed cheese, our genetically
modified organisms, our empty, homegrown

-----------------------------Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;

headlines, distracting ourselves to the point
of everyone’s death?
Tell me, Isaiah, tell me now,
how do any of us eat what is good,

-----------------------------Oh, hard times, come again no more.

what will last? Teach us how to hear God
over all the noise—the chisel, the sword,

-----------------------------’Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,

even the tornado’s plow
in small Cedarville, Ohio
through the century-old farmhouse,
the barns, the silos.

-----------------------------’Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore

Show us how the cries of the farmer
and his family, rising
with their roof as their once-
dependable walls fall,

-----------------------------’Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave

trapping them in the basement,
beneath the rubble of several generations,
are heard as firefighters free them,
and volunteers then work the fields

-----------------------------Oh, hard times come again no more.

to salvage what they can—
hearing aids, wedding band, Bible.

Julie L. Moore of Cedarville, Ohio is author of Particular Scandals (Poiema Poetry Series/Cascade Books). She is associate Professor of English and the Writing Center Director at Cedarville University. Visit Kingdom Poets to find out more. "No Heaven" arises from Isaiah 55:1-3, and features song lyrics from Stephen Foster.