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Well - Versed -- Shelly Bryant (Screaming the Word)

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Screaming the Word
by Shelly Bryant

Emperor Mao calls
for self-correction,
As Pharaoh throws baby
boys to Nile’s beasts;
Zeus drops lightning bolts
in his temper tantrum,
And oil fields belch black
filth skyward over flames;
Nero fiddles on his
throne in Rome
While Joan burns
on her French stake,
And countless Jews
roast in foggy ovens.
Musgrave dances upon
dead soldiers’ graves
Screaming out the
Word, first spoken
By the Prince of Peace
who brings not peace
but division.
And my father tells me
he’d readily take life
 From one who tried to
harm any of his.
Calls it justification
for all “just” wars.
Oh Uncle Asinonymous,
What would you have me do?

”Write” you say?
Cast aside sword
and take up pen?
Put down our arms
and take up our
Guitars (will my
trumpet do too?)?

And what will
we write or sing?
Words?  The Word?
Shall we too
scream it out?

Mightier than the sword
perhaps my pen is.
But what strength
in a sword anyway?
Against it,
endless rebellion,
Bucking the tyrant.
Endless struggle,
endless overthrow,
only to start again --
Synthesis the new thesis
Awaiting antithesis
(so Marx tells me).
It is the rebels, we know,
who are heroic.
For the moment,
at least.  Until they
In turn baptize
themselves in power,
Its lust and abuse,
slamming the doors
To heaven’s peace
on the youth who
knock there.

Let none die
by my pen!
He who lives by
the pen will die
by the pen!

My words, too often harsh,
more hurt in them than
I know how to intend.
How? How do we
speak words of
Compassion, gentleness,
void of all venom?
How, when our tongues
are forked?
How? How do I whisper
the Word of love?
How, when I have only
learned to scream?
And what I speak
in kindness, tenderness,
(at least in intent)
Falls on ears already
injured, doubling their
Oh Uncle Asinonymous!
What would you have me do?

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