This is part of a “creative assignment” for the MSc; we’ve been asked to produce a piece that speaks to an environmental or social issue. Alas, according of the vagaries of HTML, most of my utterly keen typesetting for this poem will be lost; some things are still better kept on paper. Here is a .pdf version of the poem with the intended formatting:
Because the world is a place of violence
—All life has value
What is the root of violence;
In what soil does it grow?
It taps down and breaks through the clay of life,
—Bodies and Earth alike
It grows—perversely alive, but is the end of living.
The world is a place of violence
But that world is in us; we are they who devalue life.
What is our first cause?
—May we not foster life for living things?
Or is the chief end of man oblivion and dismay?
Can we discern between these?
Because violence opposes life and well-being
—Violence has a beginning—and an end
The outer influence
The inner conflict results.
It does not spring from nothing
And only prospers in a society which encourages it.
A society that allows
The outer and inner conflict,
Where the two co-mingle
Consequently, the end of violence
Means a complete abandonment of the society
Which begets it.
The end of violence is a decision,
Not an act of force
Because violence has enduring consequence
For the future of all living things
—Given the opportunity, healing takes place
How may we endure
When it seems there is complete devastation?
Some wounds are so severe
That we lose all scope of injury
All hope for remedy
All memory of health.
Who can bear responsibility
For the cause
And for recovery?
We cut ourselves with swords
Too large, too common
For any one hand to grasp.
All the world cannot bear our weapons.
Are we strong enough to lay them down,
Or will they fall too swiftly;
One sharp quick stroke among the playthings.
Without reason, our weapons become masters.
—The sword without a sheath
Wants for blood
Because life is connected to all and the part is of the whole.
—The builders will seek peace
No enduring community is built on fear and violence;
The bonds formed under duress
Will only lead to bondage.
A community of fear
Depends on violence;
One violent cohesion to another,
The structure feeds itself.
The end is the beginning
Some will fill the gaps
And suffer for it.
Trust and goodwill are foreign words
Or used trippingly on the lips
Of those who suffer suffering;
The cause of words and deeds
In a morass of mindless mumbling.
The builders come with peace—all else
Stone, spirit, sanctuary, sanctity—hope.
Because humankind (mankind, womenkind, people, the products
Of flesh and blood, the subjects of love and hate, the caring
Components of careful plans, the surprise results of impromptu
Intercourse, the discarded unwanted remnants of the same, the
Inert and the charged, the important and the impotent, the living
And the lifeless ends of grey society…)
Because all these have the ability and responsibility
—The blessing of another
Is the means to end violence
The expression of goodwill
The substantial words lived out.
As a society built upon fear
Feeds itself with fear;
An individual composed of well-being
Grows and spreads that energy
—We are an infectious breed
The mindset, the purposed thought, from one healing—the healing
Of society follows.
Because every faith
Because every philosophy
Every expression of humanist ideals
Should call for goodwill and peace
—The poet has this voice; complete the cycle
Violence among people and violence among ourselves and nature
There is no division–there is only the continued delusion of
We split the atoms of our soul into smaller unknown units
And package these in cleverly presented boxes
And try to buy a corporeal whole
With a multitude of purchases—but the impetus is gone.
The broken atoms leave only waste;
Upon a race of automatons.
A man’s heart
And the Earth he despairs
Are one substance.
Without respect of one, the faltering other will break.
Without respite from violence
What hope have we for life;
What else may we imagine?