Read introduction

Thanks to Seamus Heaney for the image of a blown out heart, see his poem "Postscript". This poem has so far been published as follows: audio newsletter of the International Possum Tape Club for the Blind and Handicapped, Kentucky, U.S.A. with international distribution in September 2004; audio presentation of a reading by the author on Appalachian Coffeehouse on WMMT FM Radio, 88.7 fm, an affiliate of Appalshop,, on June 29, 2004; the website in May 2006; appears in the book "Following Hope" (Xlibris, 2007).

The Bearded Prophet

Whitesburgby Sabne Raznik19 Dec 2013

"This dumb hillbilly has a few more things up
Its sleeve and it'll make a go of every one before it
Rolls over."
We all say thins like that to fill the dull hours
And only we know we mean it. I've seen only
A handful
Give up before they're really beat. Clock
Rings out the hours. I'm used to insomnia.
That's when
The images creep in, like a hall of mirrors.
Until the screen rolls with inertia, nausea, and
I want to
Scream "there are too many images here!"
That's when he laughs - his cock-eyed smile
On backwards.
"What is it you're afraid of seeing, girl?"
"A golden ball corroded. A dream beyond reaching."
I breathe.
He laughs again and I know that I will
See it.

Looking through my small window on the world:
A crock pot boiling over and unattended, I am
Drawn within.
It is a nightmare from which
We cannot wake alone - O Scream, in you there
Is only surface relief,
Like veneer that cracks
Under the first test of strength. Tinsel cover
Crinkled to a wad.
Don't examine. Don't investigate. Don't question.
They encourage numb credulity: on our knees
We pray to whom they say
And fold hope like
Origami: the paper bird can fly at will and
Examine and investigate and question
Until it's blue
In the face. It is companion to the bearded
Prophet who still totes his sign:
"The End of the World
Is Near." From whom we turn away when
We pass. With no other excuse than that
They told us to.

Strip-mines open above us like deserts on top of
Green mountains, like beacons for our eyes, like wounds
That we all carry, eyes brimming over the weight of the world.

My grandmother's blind neighbour used to visit, sit
Pensive in the living room and touch our faces gently,
Eagerly, taking in every inch, saying she could "see" how
Much we'd grown, the frustration of it on her tongue
Like spittle clinging.

The general feeling worldwide was embodied there.
Anger ready to break violent (gives no relief) like
Thunderstorms over Indiana. We sway like a field
Of corn - helpless and terrified. When will the
Gales be finished and blown out like our hearts?
Don't breathe - just wait - I'm looking up into

The hail, praying faster than my lips can keep
Up with. Hope resides in higher places and
I reach for it - my limbs feel like they're separating.
It's there, but I can't reach it tonight - frustration
Like spittle clinging. Maybe tomorrow

My hope will cling and grow.

The sagging line of grey bodies - mankind -
Knowing no one cares beyond a glance,
This is the era of pain - stampeding pain -
We stand guarded, still crushed and overwhelmed.

Everyone is wounded; it festers up like a canker sore,
And we're always looking for the antibiotic cream,
We are like herbicided trees - everything
Eight-feet and down shriveled brown, uglied, and

Rendered unpalatable. So where do you get off
Judging? Myself - I cling to the bearded prophet
Who only of us carries hope - he is my
Sanity, stability. Slippery heart is for
Adhesive hands, if those exist. Top that

With what you call remedy: a laughingstock.

I met you underneath the leafed-out red bud tree
By appointment.
You sat cross-legged in the grass
And the earth framed your face. You were heavy
As creation
In your conversation - too loaded
To be comfortable. "The problem with the world today is
Its godlessness."
You decided. I had to
Agree while I fumbled with the leaf I found on
The ground,
And studied its veins like
A roadmap to the inner soul of the world, praying
It would
Come to more than greed.
I'm not sure it's always good to lose your girlish
And I was snatching at the
Remnants of mine. You wore the set expression of
"We'll show them the errors
Of their ways. We'll bring God to them."
I said.
You sat there unmoved,
Your stare fixed as if you had not heard, so I
Made up
My own sign to march
With in time. "The End of the World Is Near."