Poetry from Christopher Bernard

The Tower                                                  

By Christopher Bernard  

                                                A card held high above the crowd,                                                 stiff with prediction from the deck.                                                 The monumental avatar                                                 of danger, wreck, catastrophe,                                                 disaster, liberation: the tower                                                 rived by lighting, crowned with fire.                                                   A Roma girl holds it high and free:                                                 it tells of fortune: catastrophe                                                 promises possibility.                                                 Annihilated or redeemed?                                                 Destroyed? Or saved? Shout and blare                                                 rock the roads. The mob is there,                                                 motley, young, and angry crammed                                                 between the city and the sea.                                                  The crowd surges like the tide.                                                                                   March treads, chants shout,                                                 in a bizarrely cheerful stampede                                                 in chaotic polyphony.                                                   The beautiful young, the desperate young                                                 entombed in beauty, take the bow                                                 cutting the sea of their elders’ calm,                                                 the doldrums of death on the dead reefs;                                                 they shout at the old half in their graves                                                 as if such shouts might us all save.                                                   They march. They march. They shake their signs,                                                 their smiles are bitter, their eyes are kind.                                                   Their parents slip, contrite, ashamed,                                                 a mass at the back; good followers all,                                                 as they always were—now in parade                                                 behind their young, behind them all                                                               (a crowd that always followed the crowd),                                                 sleepwalking toward a murderous sea                                                 that might be their posterity.                                                   And yet they march. They march. They march                                                 under the tower toward the future’s sea.                                                   Together they go, in the maze of the city,                                                 in hope and despair, in courage and woe.                                                   “Where do you come from? Where do you go?”                                                 the girl seems to ask in courage and woe.                                                 “We march under the tower of fire and woe.                                                 We march to the future inscribed in the Tarot!”                                                   And they march. And they march. And that Roma girl                                                 casts her spell upon us all.                                                 “We march toward the future. What will we find?”—                                                 Its smile is bitter, its eyes are kind.

                                                                                                  —September 20, 2019

  _____   Christopher Bernard’s latest collection of poems, The Socialist’s Garden of Verses, will be published in 2020.    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *