Lovemaking in the Jezreel
We roll like tumbleweed across plaid fields
of the dale, nude and naughty as Adam and Eve,
when it dawns on me through deduction
that her body itself epitomizes valley diversity:
her armpits dells, a glen amid her breasts,
between smooth thighs a dingle.
Breezes redolent of fig trees and mulberry bushes
caress the checkered greensward,
prompting emulation; gushing springs
moisten our appetence for each other to the point
where we can hardly covet Navot’s vineyard
or enlist in Gideon’s foray at the foot of Gilboa.
Yonder lies Megiddo, where Armageddon is due,
but we’re not overly wary just at the moment.
With a bed of turf and fieldstones for pillows,
we bask with shut eyes to better inhale
the irises, anemones, and chrysanthemums,
our lissome limbs tangled for warmth
before the soaring orb sears overhead
and we the lubricious are exposed
to early risers primed for tillage.
The Fathomless Depths
Clad in robes of sorrow, our aged relatives
bade us a tearful farewell at the wharf,
openly wailing as we were crammed into the craft
by truculent smuggling gangs anxious for Euros.
When the careworn turn desperate,
even the louche are greeted as lifesavers
and due diligence becomes a risible luxury.
After all, as refugees we ourselves had become
a suspicious demimonde regardless
of our past statuses before wartime;
now, as we unmoored from the slip
and Libya to chart our course for Italy,
under sunny skies and upon calm waters,
we were reduced to human cargo
at the mercy of weather, nature, and fate,
hopeful for a reprieve from life’s vagaries.
We knowingly traded dangers: violent upheaval
for a treacherous sea crossing,
and, at wit’s end, we all took our chances.
Midway, with Malta and Sicily in sight,
seepage flooded the bilge whose pumps failed.
The ship began to capsize and founder,
dumping us headlong into glaucous seawater
which we treaded till our limbs surrendered
and we plummeted with salty mouthfuls
into the lower depths, toward deep-sea kelp forests
and sponge fields where we were mutely welcomed
by ancient vestiges of vessels Roman, Carthaginian, Greek.
Soon our bloated corpses will surface and testify
to the tragedy of our plight, whose startling images
will rattle the civilized at breakfast, though they are
already running late and rushing to embark
upon their morning commute, a transit less perilous
than our own doomed passage and with time enough
to be fleetingly mindful of fellow travelers.
Come nightfall she kneels amid sedge and peers
into the stream, anticipating her countenance
yet taken aback by the nebulous reflection
and surfeit of driftwood carried along the current,
unsettling the ambience. Looking around, she notes
cob, pen, and cygnet abruptly departing,
as if in flight from some intuited, creeping peril.
Just then from opaque depths uprises the aspect
of an anile crone, her eyelets igneous as gleeds
and her tattered graveclothes ghoulish.
Through her abysmal maw she entices with
honeyed venom, beckoning the maiden
to murmur unfamiliar formulas before
joining her below water where the pearls lie.
Although light-headed, the girl does not budge;
years of charity and chastity have conditioned her
to refrain from the forbidden. As she rises to leave,
a bony, taloned hand breaches the surface
and grasps her talus, reifying fears.
They struggle fiercely till daybreak when light
chars the gaunt hag, who caterwauls in anguish,
her piercing shrieks ascending the ether
as the eddy drags her under toward foul murk.
Cautious waterfowl return in time to spot
blood trickling from the limping maiden’s wound,
a memento mori and mark of honor.
Sand dervishes whirl as the pir appears,
causing roans to whicker and forget their groats;
I, too, dispense with nibbling unsatisfying orts
in order to listen as the surreal figure
elucidates arcane esotery for the benefit
of man and beast alike, imparting his trust
in the theurgy of Providence.
His connection to the otherworldly
seems umbilical; the mystic adores the divine
like thieves love the night.
His words penetrate the latticed shutters
of my mind, embedding my braincase
with overwrought thoughts
vaster than the wasteland landscape
we have been traversing for a fortnight.
He utters of the unseen web that links and knits
creatures with Creation, invisible fibrils and tendrils
binding all in a cosmic fabric woven
by the shaping hand of heaven with love.
How will I explain my atypical tarriance
to those awaiting me? They will scoff
at a known kafir and mutter of sunstroke,
and perhaps they will be right after all.
But even if it was only a desert vision,
a daydream of the weary, I offer thanks
for sudden insight bound to last a lifetime.
We who tremble in terror must partake in the blame
as we gape in sheer disbelief at a globe lapsing into barbarism;
on our watch, the caravan of civilization has been ambushed.
We the refined proved too timid to censure offenders,
too craven to apply consequences when most urgent.
Our leading statesmen refused to depose despots
who proceed with slaughter as usual; meanwhile caterwauling
victims rattle the night, their bloodcurdling shrieks failing to stir
the insouciant on distant shores with a thousand and one
distractions, vices, and fetishes to indulge, not least of which is
the quest for fissiparous tripe guaranteed to go viral.
Like poltroons, we stood idly by as giddy radicals in love
with their own radicalism and valorizing transgression
undermined the foundations, sapping the pillars of our forebears.
A jejune culture prizing attitude, rewarding its blatancy,
eroded societies of values and ethics, infesting communities
and misguiding otherwise promising scions;
our greatest critics, once prophets, shriveled into mere sneerers
offering more heat than light, winning no hearts and few minds.
We who dishonorably held our tongues have no right to carp
of our learned halls with ivied walls and manicured landscapes
plagued by a glut of pampered simps, hypersensitive totalitarians
prone to conniptions, mummified in ideology’s bandages,
utterly tone-deaf to free speech, debate, dissent,
a faux-intellectual ochlocracy dementing its members
via groupthink in airless echo chambers,
narcissism’s minions preoccupied with which toilet to use
even as turbaned weaponeers engineer a new world order.
The solecism of solipsism occludes even mushroom clouds.
Destined to be guardians of the civic fabric, nevertheless
we were lax and remiss in our duties as counterpoise
and so have become, predictably, bystanders to insanity;
we have been reduced by our abdication of responsibility,
by the infantilization of our generation.
With this for their model, small wonder that millennials
wallow in their feces while preaching of privilege.
We were reserved when we ought to have been outspoken
because we feared to rebuke, reprove, reproach, remonstrate.
Judgment has been abrogated, lest sore feelings ensue.
As a result, helplessness has taken hold; self-defeatism holds sway.
Now, with the writing on the wall, are we not horrified to recognize
the penmanship as our own?
Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in many publications.