Deir ez-Zor

September 7, 2017

The Empire and its minions tried to push their weight around.
They had their mercenaries and advisers on the ground.
They thought that they would win this way their dirty proxy war,
But it all was brought to nothing by the men of Deir ez-Zor.

The fog of propaganda from the media machine
Keeps telling people not to trust what their own eyes have seen.
It calls “fake news” whatever facts its narrative won’t bear
And mesmerizes millions with an empty Russian scare.

But I’ll thank God for Putin and his fighting Russian jets
That bombed the hordes of ISIS down to hell with no regrets,
And thank God for Bashar Assad, and for the SAA,
And the suffering Syrian people who have longed to see this day.

The wheel of God grinds slowly, but it grinds exceeding small.
The evil that men do rebounds and hastens their own fall.
Now the warmongers in Washington are feeling mighty sore:
They’ve had their asses walloped by the men of Deir ez-Zor.

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Queasy fear

January 12, 2013

A queasy fear I sometimes feel
arising in my gullet
from auditory memory
of some demonic trumpet

And sometimes I have had
to sit awhile and catch my breath
when sounds recall the leaden chord
of the angel of death

It’s not so often that I hear
these inward echoings
but when I do, they help me to
remember the last things

Death, and judgment, heaven and hell
(to cite the ancient number)
when seven seals send thunderous peals
and souls awake from slumber

An attempt to write something in French. No doubt I have made grammatical mistakes; I ask the readers’ pardon in advance.

Comme tu es source de tous nos biens,
O Dieu, dévotement je t’en pris,
Guéri nos âmes, et nous accorde
D’être enfants de ta famille.

Puis-ce que la chair est lourde, Seigneur,
Et contre l’esprit suscite la guerre,
Arrêt ses motions absurdes
Et donne la paix dedans le coeur.

Justement, à cause de nos péchés,
Nous connaissons des maux funestes;
Tourne nos yeux à ton visage;
Puis nous sentions l’espoir celeste.

Et puis-ce que ton Fils a tel souffert,
O Dieu, à cause de notre salut,
Applique ces dons à notre égard;
Seigneur, aie pitié de nous.

Christ is risen!

April 24, 2011

Christ is risen from the dead:
This is the primal faith
that overcomes a fallen world
immersed in ways of death.

This is the song the angels sang
when, standing at the tomb,
they saw an uncreated light
pierce through the heavy gloom.

This is what the apostles sang
when through the world they sped
attesting to the one they knew:
Christ risen from the dead.

This song is what the martyrs sang
when, hauled before the thrones
of princes, sultans, emperors,
they risked their lives and bones.

And, through all generations,
the Church has sung this hymn,
proclaiming Christ the king of kings
and triumphing in him.

Christ is risen! and the hosts
of demons quake with fear
to see within their gloomy realm
the lord of life appear.

Christ is risen, and has given
death a deadly blow,
and life and light have come to those
who languished deep below.

Christ is risen! sin and death
have lost their sovereignty,
for Christ the everlasting lord
has won the victory.

Christ is risen! grace and truth
to us are freely given,
for Christ has made a way for all
into the realm of heaven.

Christ is risen! let not fear
oppress us any more,
for Christ destroyed sin’s ancient curse
and settled that old score.

Christ is risen! may our tongues
with joy proclaim his name,
and may the countless hosts of heaven
echo with the same.

For Christ has risen from the dead
and trampled death by death,
and all who slumber in the tombs
shall waken at his breath.

Goodbye, Pharaoh

February 12, 2011

the minds of the mute
are learning to speak
the tongues that were tied
begin to move freely
a people that sat
for thirty odd years
now learns to stand up
and no one can really
now tell them
they are not
their own

a Pharaoh had wanted
his own dynasty
his horse and his riders
are thrown in the sea

life circulates here
at levels unknown
as in the deep desert
where all appears death
the seeds of the future
are quietly sown
they fly through the land
at the storm’s mighty breath

the past is the womb
in which the world grows
each new generation
adds layers of soil
enriched with new life
when it turns to the light
and bearing sweet fruit
through its love, truth, and toil

Poem 2.1.90 On his own and his parents’ death (PG 37, 1445-1446)

Πρῶτος Καισάριος, ξυνὸν ἄχος· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
Γοργόνιον· μετέπειτα πατὴρ φίλος· οὐ μετὰ δηρὸν
μήτηρ. Ὦ λυπρὴ παλάμη καὶ γράμματα πικρὰ
Γρηγορίου! γράψω καὶ ἐμοῦ μόρον, ὑστατίου περ.

First it was Caesarius, our common sorrow; then
Gorgonia; after this, my beloved Dad; and not long afterward,
Mom. O mournful hand and bitter writing
of Gregory! I shall write my own death, too, though last of all.

✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜

Poem 2.1.98 Another (PG 37, 1450-1451)

Ἔκ με βρέφους ἐκάλεσσε Θεὸς νυχίοισιν ὀνείροις.
Ἤλυθον ἐς σοφίης πείρατα. Σάρκα Λόγῳ
Ἥγνισα καὶ κραδίην. Κόσμου φλόγα γυμνὸς ἄλυξα.
Ἔστην συνααρὼν Γρηγορίῳ γενέτῃ.

From childhood God called me by dreams of the night.
I arrived at the boundaries of wisdom. For the Word I hallowed
flesh and heart. Naked I fled the world’s flame.
I stood in Aaron’s order with Gregory my father.

✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜

Poem 2.1.99 Another (PG 37, 1451-1452)

Ἄγγελοι αἰγλήεντες ἀπειρέσιον κατὰ κύκλον,
Τρισσοφαοῦς Θεότητος ὁμὸν σέλας ἀμφιέποντες,
Γρηγόριον δέξασθ’ ἀνάξιον, ἀλλ’ ἱερῆα.

Brilliant angels in your measureless circle
round and round attending the one light of thrice-shining Godhead:
receive Gregory, unworthy, but a priest.

Hold the Old Faith

December 3, 2010

Hold the old faith
and let it not go
nor wander in ways
that lead down below.
Keep to the path
the saints loved to tread.
Turn not aside
to haunts of the dead.
Strait is the way
and narrow the gate.
Recognize this
before it’s too late.
Holiness dwells
not under all roofs.
Under some robes
one finds devil’s hooves.
Honor the Cross
on which the Lord died.
All other signs
are emblems of pride.