Thursday, December 8, 2011
Facing Toward Jerusalem
image borrowed from bing
Facing Toward Jerusalem
I was called Daniel in BC606,
and while still young I enjoyed
the privileged life of Jewish nobility,
until another war brought foreign soldiers
into our midst, and many of us were captured
and roughly dragged off to Bablylon;
myself and my three companions,
Shadrach, Meshash, and Abeduago.
But being the best, the most handsome
and educated in our captive horde,
we were spared slavery, were trained
to be advisors to the court, and were
made into eunuchs to stifle any act
of immorality or civil disobedience.
I was the one with prophetic dreams
and the ability to interpret them. Soon
my fame began to spread, and kings
summoned me to reveal the dark meanings
within their own dreams.
One night I dreamed of four beasts who
rose up out of the turbulent sea,
a lion with eagle’s wings,
a bear with three tusks,
a leopard with four heads and four wings,
a beast with iron teeth, ten horns
and human eyes--and from this I fathomed
the future, becoming third ruler in the realm,
and was called Belteshazzar in Babylon.
My enemies grew bold one summer,
and convinced the king to create a new penal law
stating that “no man could ask a petition of any god,
save King Darius, more than once every 30 days.”
Because it was common knowledge that I always
left the windows in my chambers open, facing
toward Jerusalem, and that on my knees I would
pray there three times every day; and that is where
the soldiers found me on the morning of my arrest.
Midday I found myself led into a den of ten lions,
starved for a week so as to make a hasty meal
of my lean insolence, hubris, and blasphemy.
I made my way to the barred windows, and knelt,
opening a dialogue with those who hovered
just beyond the veil, hearing the growling close
behind me, as the oder of carnivorous saliva
smote my senses, and I prepared for my own
devouring like a chaste priestess quivering
delicately in the dirty straw; but none of them
attacked, even their roaring ceased. I opened
my clenched lids and saw all ten of them lying
like huge house cats just watching me; some
of them purring, tails twitching, tongues panting.
I soon believed that I was the inhabitant of a miracle,
and when Habakkuk appeared with my evening meal,
transported by angels to provide me sustenance,
I heard a chorus of holy chanters serenading me
as I ate. The night came, but not the lions. I sat
with my back to bricks, eyes wide open in the
stygian darkness. With the morning came rays
of angelic light and Jeremiah with my breakfast.
Walking out into my own legend I lived to be
a hundred; considered a saint now by the
Catholics and Protestants, and a prophet
by the Muslims, I travelled on to a land where
tomorrows never reside, where time does
not exist, and I often think of those lions
with their foul smelling breath, and great
love in their yellow cat’s eyes.
Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?