Gathered on this our final cloistered day
Of numbered beat and hitched, halting measure
Uttered in reverence like a prayer,
Like a congregation’s communion host
Placed on each longing tongue, promising life.
Trucks pull up. Our armed enemies are here.
I hear them issue orders—a foreign host
Of holy unhurried warriors. Today
Their bloody rites of hostage and prayer
Will question our real worth, seek our measure.
I stand to read these lines, these mere measures,A flawed meditation on fragile life:
Its torments, its twists. Now offer a prayer
For our killers lately come. They’re here.
There is no escaping this fatal day.
Read on, read on, urges our earnest host.
The dread intruders. Another measure
That seals us in, holds us from light of day
And the pocked leer, the shine and under-life
Of rising moon. Through it all you sit here
Or there, nicely applaud, begin a prayer.
A doubt of connection. Our frantic host
Types a warning. Come soon, he says, come here.
But they won’t. Such dire moments we measure
Against the slothful punctuated life
Lived without direction until this day.
When neither poetry nor fervent prayer
Dissuade evil and art cowers to life,
We stand as we must, a resistant host
Turning back infection, taking full measure
Of betrayers, some perhaps sitting here.
And hear the music of returning prayer
Still my poem pulses on, trembles life.
By Dennis Daly
First Published by Fox Chase ReviewReprinted by Oddball Magazine