One Hand Clapping

Ancient, my path,
first etched in stone by the cavemen,
then dictated to Moses through the burning bush
and documented by Paul, to my mortification,
since I served him leavened bread
and did not wash his feet.

I was excused and forgiven,
since, in one life, I bore the Virgin.

Yes, that one.

I have lain in back alleys with drunks,
the stench of red wine our salvation;
choked in the gases at Auschwitz, 
my nudity exposed to the leers of boy soldiers, 
have become those same soldiers, 
prying the gold out of starving men's teeth.

I have seen into the hearts of terrorists,
smelled their rage, ridden the bombs out of Israel, 
only to sprawl by the broken body
of a dying five-year-old Muslim boy.

Kings and Pharaohs have loved me.
They gifted me with rubies, 
and asked me to dance on silken sheets, 
grinding my sweetness into their greedy mouths.

I drowned with Mary Jo at Chappaquiddick
then lied with Ted about that cowardly night.

I was the shadow in Plato's cave, 
a mote in the eye of expanding star systems,
the split in the atom bomb.

Complex, these tales of my origins,
passed down by faceless mouths
around crackling campfires,
attended only by savants and misfits,
who applaud loudly at each recast of my passage.

Pris Campbell

Art: James Coleman from

Return to Poetry Index II
Return to Homepage