Poetry from Christopher Bernard

Modernity Is Catastrophe


Anatomically correct drawing of a seated person pointing










Modernity Is Catastrophe

He woke in the middle of a nightmare.

The terror lay in his room

like the body of a dead animal

covered with flies. Its teeth

shone in the grass.


A French soldier,

half-asleep above the stove of a peasant,

turned, restless with insomnia from his problem:

What can I know, if anything?”

He knew he could doubt; besides that, 

could he know anything at all?


A man raised a tube in Italy

with curious lenses toward the night.

The moon bowed its face toward him.

What will I see there, if anything?”

To his eye he put the tube and squinted.

Cara luna, will I see anything at all?”


An Englishman sat carefully writing

a work of indisputable logic

through the night. He raised his eyes, reflected:

What can a man do, if anything?”

In the darkness he heard someone whisper:

What if he can do anything at all?”  


A gentleman in Paris totted up figures

in two columns on a smooth surface of calf-skin:

What can I make, if anything?”

He counted again: the numbers added up, beautifully.

His fingers grasped the quill so hard it split.

I can make more. What if I can make it all?”


It was nearing midnight in Europe.

A messenger was crossing the mountains,

taking an urgent notice between sovereigns

who had never met face to face.


As he neared the summit, he stumbled,

his boot dislodging a stone

that fell, gathering stones as it went

in a wind of rocks, trees, snow,

collapsing across the valley

in an avalanche, burying it all.


Christopher Bernard is a poet and writer living in San Francisco. He is coeditor of the literary and arts webzine Caveat Lector. His poetry can be read at The Bog of St. Philinte.

Image from The BioLogos Forum.