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Prophecy, a Poem by Gerald Long

The fascinating poem below was written by an outstanding poet in Salt Lake City, Gerald Long, an old friend of mine from my days at Brighton High School. He has given me permission to post his poem here. I would appreciate your comments and thoughts.


As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please? This desert soil
Wants not her hidden luster, gems and gold:
Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise
Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more?
John Milton Paradise Lost: Book II Lines 269-273

After famine and war and pestilence
and floods and plagues, I, a man of small
consequence, yet having been born
in affliction and preserved by the
necromancy of unnatural science; now
affirm that the words of Galileo and Copernicus,
once considered blasphemy, are true.
For huge Euclidean metallic winged birds
roar across the sky, in great numbers and at great speed.
And spidery satellites glide the heavens.
And prideful man has tread the moon.
And no Deity was found.
The eye of man has scrubbed the starry expanse,
and traveled through the eons, and has not found God.
I swear my account is true and my sight is clear.
I do not believe in the providence of the miraculous,
or that I shall be raised incorruptible.
I believe in the dross of metal,
and I attest to the magic in silicon.
And I swear the sands of the oceans
can express in zeros and ones
the sum total of creation.

Not much has changed since Moses,
burdened with stone and law, stumbled
down some dusty ravine
in the shadow of the Sinai,
except that the chief inlet
of knowledge in this age
is a single illuminated tablet
which can be held, or carried, or sat
upon a table, and which can show
any known thing or any book
in any library
upon the earth;
which is round and populated.
And that words,
and drawings,
and man's voice
are stored in sand and carried
on unseen waves which ripple through the air.
Still, there is much suffering and starvation, and war, and disease...
and every despicable deed imaginable,
and horrible deviance,
and evil, and depravity,
cover the firmament of earth.
What shall I say of war
except that this generation
has perfected it,
and we can slay the multitudes
faster than Christ could feed them.
For man has learned the alchemy that slew
Sodom and Gomorrah.

And the great Himalayan glaciers
have begun to melt.

And the Apocalypse approaches.

And the name of the final horseman
is Pandora.

And when the moon
rises over Rome
and washes the Vatican
in its blue sea,
and spreads its slippery
blue feet
in the Fountain of Neptune,
the crater Copernicus stares down
like some strange cyclopean eye
at La Dolce Vita,
blinks once, and is forgotten in the great,
drifting, slumbering millennia.
I know, I am, at once,
ephemeral and eternal...

...and central,

...and unseen.

For I have seen
exact representations
of the past, and the past itself.
And the nature of time
has changed,
as if, somehow, time could foretell.
But the nature of eternity
remains the same, for man is still mortal.
I, a common, even trivial man
have seen the world from my room, and my city,
which is infinitely larger, in scale, and in imagination
than Rome in the time of Christ, but is smaller than Rome is now.
For Earth's moon spins on its own axis, and circles the Earth.
And the Earth, in turn, circles the Sun.
And the Sun itself, circles the Galactic Core.
And the stars are not gods after all.
And Democritus was proven correct.
And the universe is infinitely large and infinitely small.
And God has not been found at either end of this polarity.
And yet, those claiming to know God are, by no means, a rarity.
The rulers of my time are cruel and clever
as they have been throughout the ages.
For the nature of man has not changed.
And man knows:
every deprivation
every suffering
every insult
every degradation
every humiliation
and is still used as a beast
and is still spat upon
and used as a slave
and treated unjustly
and tortured, and killed.
And all of this is done because the eye of God
has not been seen in the infinite heavens since the Fall.
For space curves and Gravity befalls us all.
We have brought down Leviathan and the tower the Babylonians
built, was nothing compared to our spired cities.
The streets of Jerusalem and Gaza
run with blood, and the Lion of Judah
flashes its gold fangs,
and stretches itself out under the hot sun.
And money is loaned at higher interest to the poor
than it is to the rich.
And the poor are among us.
And our firstborn sons are given to war.
And we curse our rulers.
And virgins are taken by force and for no value, and they are never betrothed.
And endless are the number who perished because they were someone the Deity loathed.

Our armies are Legion and the power of my nation
is beyond the imagination
of the ancient Pharaoh.
And the motto
on our currency
proclaims in God we trust.
And yet, no one has seen God.
And the age of the Prophets has passed in the shadow of Reason.
And now, an epoch passes in a single season.

And the heavens, Lord,
are cold
and full of stars
that blink
in the frigid expanse
of night
like the cold, listless eyes
of psychopaths.
And my soul, which is filled with knowledge,
and the learning of men from throughout the ages,
knows nothing of your divine nature, or of angels, and rages
with hunger and longing and death.
And I long to hear your soul, to hear you take a breath.

I want to hear the language of angels
and the dreams of Jupiter and Neptune, and the Pleiades;
to expand noiselessly
like thin oil, or slippery
across the dreamy,
frozen ocean
of space--to be
as thin as nothing,
as negligible and pervasive
as zero,
as insubstantial
as air.
I long to be impossible
or an improbable
sequence of events
in the absurd theatre
of being.
And yet, here I am,
two dark bellows
inhaling all of creation
and exhaling it
a little at a time
into thin air--and void
--and space.
I sit with my sins
clothed in the shroud of mortality,
condemned from birth
and exiled here
on an infinitesimal
speck of rock
in a sea of light
in the Orion arm
of a spiral galaxy.
And I Am....

Gerald Long 12/23/04


To share comments on this poem, please go to my blog entry, "Prophecy: A New Poem by Gerald Long."