Saturday, June 18, 2011

becoming powerful

If he were God, he would keep reversing the victories -- which, moreover, is what God does!

-- Roland Barthes*

What will you do
If you find yourself in Egypt
Where your labor is stolen
And fed as the greatest of delicacies
To those who beat you for sport
While maligning your character

If you cry out to the Lord
(or whatever there is to be cried to)
And the Lord hears your suffering
And raises a Moses among you
To take you away from all this

What will you do when the tables are turned
And believe me the tables will turn
Before you are ready

In some corner of the parade
Some eddy in the stream of power
Some place where no one can see you
No news cameras roll
And no anchormen wait to report your iniquity

What will you do when (surprise)
You are head of the committee
Or maybe just the subcommittee
Or chief of police
Or the bursar

As soon as you can get away with it
What will you do
For God has chosen sides
And you are on God's side
Congratulations to the poor but damn you rich
Every valley shall be exalted and every hill made low
So now you're exalted
And what will you do
For God loves you

What will you do when the Promised Land calls
And you cross the great river to take the possession
Of what you were told you deserve

Will you tumble those Jericho walls
On people whose crimes are
first to live there before you were chosen
(chose) to live there yourselves and
second to name their God by a different name

Will you charge on a horse and with sabre
Tepees of women and children
To music of fife and drum
Singing your victory for history
Awarding medals in memory

Will you build a new temple
Of stolen labor
Is your freedom just a crank
Of the vengeance wheel
Up and then down
Going and coming round
And smacking from behind

This is the trap on the Wilderness Highway
This is the IED on the road to freedom
This is the sin in liberation's heart
Ready to break and to clot the body

All tyrants think themselves aggrieved
They say they just want Lebensraum
And not to be fenced in
They say this is their due
For what they (and you) have suffered

Read back a chapter or two
Our sufferings are notes of history's song
We all have cause for vengeance
If you read back a chapter or two
But the Kingdom is not a schedule for taking turns
And the Promise is not a balance sheet

Comfort the afflicted afflict the comfortable
Saith the Lord
But the tables can turn at a moment's notice
And we are quickly afflicted or comfy
We might already
Have received our reward

If God has taken sides
Then God can change sides
At a moment's notice

The up and the down is not justice
The turning must stop
And the Wheel must come to rest
And we must lay it on its side

There are no special cases
That's what the Creator says
Paupers and princes
Werden BrΓΌder
All created equal
No special rights

Not my freedom right or wrong
But freedom under God

*Roland Barthes, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill & Wang, 1977), pp. 46-7

1 comment:

Heartpeace said...

Love this. Thank you!
heartpeace ~mary most