Thursday, January 14, 2010
Our wandering home is a dangerous place:
now and then the Earth adjusts its mantle,
or takes breath and lets loose a hurricane
upon our carefully protected lives.
Falling walls, burning ash, or creeping floods
remind us of our small stock of fortune
when forced to play in nature's casino
where the house rules are hard to determine.
Mostly we feel safe inside our boxes,
watching the fate of others on flat screens,
shadow beings guarding against our fears
until misfortune crashes through the door.
The hungry and the poor cry out for help:
often there is none, or when aid comes
it gives only temporary relief that
is followed by a lesser misery.
The mangled and torn struggle in the dust
but we are too distant to hear their cries
until their tortured images appear
on our ubiquitous computer screens.
Our mirrored pain or pity soon abates
as ten thousand words beat upon our brains,
depleting shallow wells of empathy,
dulling compassion's broad but arid plains.
In our safe and comfortable havens
we cannot feel the surging agonies
of the snapped bones, the pulverised flesh or
the awful fear that death is drawing near.
We see the incident occur and hear
the reporter's rational tone explaining
the situation, while the camera's eye
picks out the highlights of the tragic scene.
Broken buildings and belongings are mixed
with the tattered remnants of human life,
stunned zombies circumambulate a road
as flies converge upon fresh breeding grounds.
In a while, weighty misery may prick
our conscience just enough to overcome
the inertia of will divorced from pain
to find and type that credit card number.