Dimly, as a vague shape outlined in the fog,
I catch a fleeting glimpse of Babylon.
Her rough hewn temples, frenzies of lust,
and the sickly pale shining eyes and faces
of those who uphold her monuments.
They stand in defiance of all
that came before.
We have sojourned here in times past,
you and I.
As the wind howls through concrete canyons,
we wrap ourselves tighter against
the cold’s searching fingers.
We are comrades.
We have bent our heads together
to the chill wind that blew over
once fertile soil, bloody but unbowed.
My comrade and I know for a certainty
that pain and death and fear
are but vain shadows that flee at dawn,
and yet they linger on and on,
like a note to be paid with interest.
A gull cries against the leaden sky.
It is a solitary sound of loneliness
that startles us out of our reverie.
It makes us reflect, you and I,
on battles fought and won and lost,
of shared stories and food packets.
Cigarettes smoked before the barrels
had a chance to cool down.
Yet Babylon still stands
mute and senseless.
Her pride and bearing long gone,
for it was built upon the shifting
sands of Time;
the stone of the Ages was too hard
I am grateful that we were tested
in that crucible that separates the pure
from the impure.
I do not mind that we threw ourselves
in vain against that breastwork
of money, lies, and coercion that cracked
but did not fall,
for it was in the Struggle that we found
and each other.
Harms Woods 2012
The branches rub their frozen limbs
in winter wind.
Like the cocking of a pistol, it is a
cold and brittle sound,
My journey here is short:
I do not have roots that dig deep
and arms that thrust skyward.
I do not have the luxury of
long slow growth.
No. The blood races hot in arteries
inadequate for the task.
I would much prefer your elixir
rising slowly, but steadily, to the Crown.
How strange I must look to you-
all motion and wanting, like a wasp
in a jar that glimpses a blurry Eden,
just out of reach.
It was not the turn of the potter’s wheel
that fashioned you; no desert deity
shaped your stately form.
In the cool stillness of the Time
the Gods of our Fathers walked over soil
that yielded joyfully to their touch, past
mountain lakes that mirrored
Your towering strength and smooth
limbed beauty was already there.
In honor of you, They were moved
to create; roots that dig deep
and arms that thrust skyward:
Ask and Embla.