“Bethlehem’s Hours’ Mourn”
Bethlehem’s hour’s mourned, furtive glances northward toward Nazareth;
Veiled her expectations as soon enough her promised Son survives.
She knows that somewhere in between this king contrives
Within himself to build a wall. He practices precision; he does not guess.
He knows exactly what he wants, and from the East come
Three who only recently made queries round the campfires
‘Neath the skies beyond the Jordan. Casually they’ve inquired,
“What are these walls, and what the genesis of guns
And orchards plaited all along the shepherds’ run? Whose images are these,
And what is it they disguise, the vulgate for the people?”
Yes, they come, these three, adrift once again stalled between the steeples,
Barred, forbidden. Then again, their passage isn’t what it used to be.
They ask in vain and find the answers come as no surprise.
The king’s awake tonight; he’ll not fool the wise this time.
You’ll find King Herod’s tomb beneath it all, and Caesar’s not far
Behind buried in debris not hitherto imagined nor have the Magi ever seen
As much though restless centuries’ search, redux; reckon countable as has been
Adjusted by the market honed of hubris born of Ptolemy’s predilections,
Dwarfed and all but swallowed in the squalid malls of all economies; schemes
Asserting prescient views in years despite their slumbers
Solvent in the past and future well beyond prognosis and the numbers
Used to fund their offices and humour all humanity. Their smiles seem
To reach for meaning in the fireplace, they sift the ashes of the kiln
And pyre and dote on what they think they’ve found as if confirmed
Not least by carbon’s ancient age and not at all by what is earned.
Admire the Chinese while they rise, ballast for the Pantheon of what will fit the bill
And never mind the smoke and sacrifice and all that slavery, monuments to reigns
As numberless in catalogues as blood stains
in a Holy Land of boiling clouds and endless pain.