A Face Familiar To Me Once
Nothing anyone says touches the situation.
Strangers who most love their countries
Face each other over tables.
Everyone agrees that senseless killing
Is senseless. Not everyone agrees
That sensible killing is senseless.
Words, and their meanings, grow more distant
With each breath…while these strangers who care
And can face anyone but themselves, talk
Across tables, beautiful mothers are raped
With their beautiful daughters and killed.
As the family of strangers who care breaks
For coffee and snacks, everywhere else
Bare tables are the least of worries:
When (comes the cry) will the sensible killing end?
When (comes the cry) will the senseless killing end?
When (sings the chorus) will the crying ever stop?
My mother often said that the difference
Between people who love you
And people who don't, is that
People who love you feel sad
When you die.
In the soul’s black celebration,
Captured in relief, in white paint,
Before anyone can say ‘Molotov’
Entire towns are upside-down,
On fire, refugees tumbling
From hills, spilling onto boats
And over their sides, drowning
In charcoal waters.
Few escape before soldiers
Secure the perimeter
And bear down with their unholy fire.
Smoke’s black curtain closes the sky
Save a single beam of light
That penetrates the mount
Where a man stands crucified
Ghosts of family and friends poke
Through smoke-blackened rafters
With wails of horror and gestures
Of anger and pity.
An army as big as a city
Explodes over the hill, waving
Bloody flags, chasing women
And children like foxes, through fires
Into the countryside of soot
And smoldering snow.
The faces and hands of the black-
Shirted thugs, who torch the churches
And synagogues, glow indelibly red,
Not from the flames they fire,
But from the lion’s power
And the truth’s heat
Of the faith they cart away.
People scatter in every direction
From the cross on the hill
With rescued bags or bundles, though
Most carry nothing but sorrow.
Everywhere scriptures lay tattered
And burning, smoldering scrolls
That carried the word, now carry
The word’s smoke back into the mouth
Of the crucified man.
Though he was born under an auspicious star in the holy city of Salt
Lake, Jefferson Adams has never been a Saint of Latter Days or
any other kind of saint. To paraphrase John Berryman, "...he is a
lunatic, and sore vexed, who falls oft times into the fire, and oft,
into the water." His views, both poetic and otherwise, are renegade, and
solely his own. Such poems as the world has seen fit to print have
appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Dislocate!,
Hayden’s Ferry Review, Blip Magazine Archiveand Hiram Poetry
Review, among others. He presently balances zen austerity with
shameless profligacy in San Francisco, where he edits