Here's a poem from my recent collection compiled in Bristlecone Sequoia.

Dark Prophet

The early morning darkness was chilling;
My path lit by a thin moon just filling.
If thoughts are things what I saw was true.
Belief in such tales I will leave to you.
Where shadow crossed shadow of a sudden there stood
Before me a robed figure, head hidden by hood.
I knew it was Death.  I stood frozen in stride
As He drifted toward me and stopped by my side
Saying, “Don’t be afraid, it is not you who are dead;
I come as a prophet to show what’s ahead.”
Before me was spinning the whole earthly sphere
As quickly together we both did draw near.
“Tween Mecca and Medina standing in Saudi sand
I watched as a spider emerged from the land.
Out from the dark of Mount Hira’s cave
And across the land it hoped to enslave.
Its black, bulbous body grew fast as it crawled
Until over all the Levant it had sprawled:
One leg in Egypt, one in Afghanistan,
In Iran and Syria, across North Africa’s sand.
From below its belly I looked up with dread
And saw the mark: a crescent of red!
Its jaws clashed like scimitars above the Rock’s dome
While across all the Holy Lands its eyes did roam.
Just above Bethlehem it spotted the stable
And with a quick stab tore the boy from his cradle.
“God is not begotten, nor does he beget,”
The beast cried thunderously, its jaws firmly set!
I could hear the baby’s plaintive wail
As scarlet pools traced the spider’s trail.
The mother moaned; wise men struggled in vain;
I cried, “Why don’t you stop the baby’s pain?”
“Not yet,” hissed Death, “that is not the plan;
We must complete the apocalyptic vision of man.”
“So now have you come to fill the last page
Of man’s stay on earth with hatred and rage?
Oh Death you are heartless, you must lack a soul
If this is your aim and ultimate goal.”
He rattled in response, “I come at the end.
You misunderstand.  That makes me your friend.
My touch brings comfort; rather you should dread
My companions who ride steeds black, white, and red.
They are the ones who carry pain into life.
I merely provide an end to all strife.”
Then beneath the spider I saw galloping in gore
The horsemen of pestilence, famine, and war.
The beast started moving; where it placed each leg
Appeared a fine web to which was tied an egg.
I watched as over the whole world around
By this web all became tightly bound.
I saw the young multiply and in their own stead
The entire earth was held fast by their thread.
“How can this be stopped,” I cried in dismay?
“When the sons of Abraham have all had their say.”
“Is there no way to halt such virulent spread,
Or does it end when all are converted or dead?”
“The drama, though written, upon players depends;
Even I am uncertain of how it all ends.
There are opposing roads man may travel.
One finds unity and seeks to unravel
The network before you that you see spun,
Find all the threads and cut them one by one.
In isolation, you see, no nest can survive;
Each devours itself, dying to stay alive.
Failing this then man shall always remain
On the path leading to Armageddon’s plain.
But if you wish to see the torment cease,
If mankind will ever truly find peace,
There are certain signs that must first appear,
Before you can be certain dawn draws near:
When the Baptist’s head returns to Rome
And in forgotten sepulcher finds a home;
When Saint Stephen’s sword rests with its hilt
Supporting a crown whose cross stands a’tilt;
And when a Caliph in Baghdad from his minaret
Calls reunited blood brothers to join in Salet.
Then comes a day when three paths climb
Up the Temple’s mount, at the top to combine.
Past the Rock into a new temple they enter
The Holy of Holies all will see as their center,
Crowned by three spires visible from afar,
Topped by a cross, crescent moon, and star.”
“Why give man an answer,” I asked Death in awe,
“When you’ll soon have all given what I just saw?”
“I am in no hurry.  Each must answer my call;
Since life began I’ve collected almost all.”
“Almost?” I asked, “Did some escape?
I thought nothing living could elude your fate.”
“Should anyone hope from my touch to survive
Then he must die while remaining alive.”
With a sudden flourish the Phantasm vanished
And I from His surreal spell was banished.
Falling to the ground, I struggled to rise,
Still hearing in my heart these whispered sighs:
“A final message I would ask you to carry;
Tell it to all who dream they may tarry,
Who believe that time is a cup poured full
From which they may drink, ignoring the pull
Of duties and burdens from the past they earned
And must bear their weight until each has learned
To surrender everything to the Force that knows all,
The Single Source whose irresistible call
All seek to answer though they constantly ignore
How everything is lost as they chase after more.
If man clings to formulae in his heart and mind
Inevitably my claim around him shall wind.
Rules held sacred and thought fundamental,
Miss the Truth which remains transcendental.
The Serpent’s knowledge leads but to confusion;
As sense and reason produce persistent illusion.
To consider only that which he sees,
Man treats but symptoms and dies of the disease.”
Then all was quiet for all had been said.
From my knees I peered up the long path ahead;
Through times of both joy and dismay it will wind,
Formed by the dreams and dreads of mankind.
I rose reborn from the dust to my feet
Ready now a fast breaking dawn to greet.
So, as commanded, I leave this story to you.
Now alone and together we must choose what to do.

 

End