Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oklahoma's Ten Commandments, and People, Just Getting Along: A Poem-Polemic

Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments, and People, Just Getting Along

By David Hartley Mark

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/us/oklahoma-removes-ten-commandments-monument.html?_r=0

                                    They’ve put away Commands in Oklahoma,
                                    The plinth is all remains of Decalogue;
                                    Say, Moses: are your words in men’s hearts carven,
                                    Or did the vanished granite leave a fog?

                                    The Bible’s words appear most pure and noble,
                                    But leave a bitter taste upon the tongue—
                                    You cannot simply read, but learn to live them:
                                    They help you climb to heaven, rung by rung.

                                    Next-door to my house my neighbor is a Muslim—
                                    We smile and wave whene’er he passes by.
                                    Say, Preacher: will my neighbor go to heaven,
                                    Or with the erring sinners must he fry?

                                    And down the block two quiet men are living,
                                    Withouten wives: I’ve heard that they are gay.
                                    Leviticus commanded: “That’s forbidden!”
                                    Would you have me go there, drive them away?

                                    Across from me, a man and wife are dwelling,
                                    A fine young couple: children, two, and dog.
                                    I’ve tried to greet them as they drive to church, but
                                    They stare ahead: my friendship is a slog.

                                    Perhaps I should apply in Oklahoma
                                    To purchase their two-tons of Decalogue—
                                    Just to attract my neighbors’ quick attention,
                                    To our Humanity-Machine add Friendship’s cog.

                                    Were Jesus, Moses, Mahmud all to move here,
                                    And set up shop, I wonder how they’d do:
                                    Would people likely smile, and nod, and greet them,
                                    Or, worse, ignore them, without more ado?

                                    Two tons of stone! My Lord—teach us some manners!
                                    And leave the rocks all buried ‘neath the ground—
                                    Dear God! Please write Your words upon our soul-hearts,
                                    And let Your peace rule, all this World around.