Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Quaker Professor's Poetry

"Here are two poems, published by one of my writing and literature professors at George Fox University. You can also find them on Poets Against War.

It’s always about loss,
this kind of epistemology
philosophers regard with dread.
And we can fool ourselves with thinking.
Like the grandfather
I read about recently
who picked up his four-year-old grandson
in two pieces on a Baghdad market street,
after a sudden car bomb there.
And then just yesterday grocery shopping,
concentrating on which broccoli florets to buy,
out of the corner of my eye
a little blond four-year-old girl
is running to the side of my leg
yelling grandpa, grandpa, we saw your car
in the parking lot and knew it was you.
And my son and his beautiful wife
are smiling an aisle away,
near the potatoes and sweet onions,
she holding their year-old daughter
on her hip the way mothers do.
And I’m so happy to see them all there
in one piece that I begin to cry,
like a foolish, foolish old man.

-Ed Higgins

In Baghdad
Silent beneath the women’s wailing
the boxed dead lie like wrapped gifts
to the god grief waiting there
beside open unmarked graves.

Caught in their sorrow sound
these photographed women
sway their silent voices slowly,
like bent minarets of black.

Their eyes sad as charred craters
in the market street. Mothers, wives,
and daughters their naked hands
raised in skeins of grief.

They twist and mourn their war
consumed husbands, sisters,
brothers and children.

So many counted and uncounted
dead they blur a tear-drained land
against a another daylight bomb’s
killing darkness.

In noon’s blood-stained heat
and smoke-lingering light,
graves that keep on filling.

-Ed Higgins

If you're interested in reading more of his poetry, just hit Google. He's everywhere. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Belfast Murals

I just got back to Oxford (where I'm currently residing) after spending the weekend with a friend in Belfast. She's in Northern Ireland for the year, working with a local church toward reconciliation and community building. While it was wonderful to see her, and beautiful to see Ireland, I was a bit shocked by the overt support of paramilitary groups still evident in murals throughout the city (particularly on Shankill Road, where I spent over an hour -- just wandering). Though "the Troubles" may be simmering down, it was eerie to see so much hatred and one-sided remembrance of pain. And I had to wonder, how can peace and true healing occur when one side still remembers themselves as heroes, and labels their enemies terrorists?

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Revelation 21:4"

"IN THE NAME OF LOVE. 1 John 3:16-18, Eph. 5:1-2, Mark 12:30-31"

"hope. love. forgiveness."

The friend I was visiting has an interesting, and succinct, description of the Troubles on her blogsite.