— Karla Gonzalez (@itskkgonzalez) October 17, 2016
I learned to dance once I could walk
And stirred men’s hearts north, south, east, west–
Jerusalem’s High Queen of Dance
Was I; in rooms the people talked
And told their friends that I was best:
I put admirers in a trance.
Called to dance before the King,
I twirled and did what Mother wished:
I bowed and lowered eyes and asked
The king, who had an oath to keep.
I whirled in ever-smaller rings.
A guard brought in–blood on a dish–
The Baptist’s head, a thankless task . . .
What have I done? How can I sleep?
A peacock mid-road
Spreads his feathers as snow falls
On my outstretched hand
Legal Americans have dreams to raise
Their families, safe, prosperous, secure,
They have contributed and followed laws,
They’ve risked and sacrificed, deserving praise,
While those who put them down are immature
As kids who still believe in Santa Claus.
The criminals have had their days of fun;
Let lawful citizens be Number One.
The African drums have rolled,
The Spirit has come with breath.
A man’s life can’t be told
Until he reaches his death.
Don’t Climb Above the Law
I killed a man in Idaho,
His name was Ezra Pound.
I was plowing in the back
When Sheriff Paul pulled round.
“We know you did it, Washington,
We found your fingerprints,”
He said and spit upon the dirt.
I took his subtle hint
And said, “I cannot tell a lie:
I did the savage deed.
My conscience doesn’t trouble me–
I had to see him bleed.
I saw him getting ready, Paul,
To leave his roots behind.
The Romans make our boys love art
So much they lose their minds.
As maple sap should stay in trees
Where it is born and bred,
Americans should stay and bless
The land where they were fed.
The best of craft is native-made
In the American grain;
You can’t let talent steal away
To crown a foreign plain.”
“Murder is murder,” said the cop
And snapped the cuffs behind.
“You’ll get a chance to tell the judge
The reasons on your mind
When your revolver spit the bullet
That split young Ezra’s head.”
He put me in his car’s back seat;
The jail gave me a bed.
By day I fashion license plates,
At night I read the Word,
But Ezra’s ghost has haunted me,
The shadow of a bird.
“I might have had a thing or two
American to say,”
It wails, “and gained humility
Along my lonesome way.
Don’t judge a man before his time
Or climb above the law.
The landmarks left by ancient men
Still hold their power, Pa.”
As for my house,
We’ll serve the Lord,
And in due time
Reap sure rewards.
Nebuchadnezzar, Persian king,
Boasted of his lands and power,
No king could match his army’s size
Or beauties of his bower.
Ten thousand horses, tall and sleek,
Strong and swift as wind,
Neighed in stables sumptuous,
Prepared for war on a whim.
His harem held more loveliness
Than any traveler knew,
With glittered gowns and perfumed breasts,
The women loved him, too.
His archers shot the arrows sharp
From bows no boy could bend,
From bows so large that robust men
Could barely string the end.
A ten days’ ride would only start
To cover his domain,
With forts where soldiers guarded walls
And raiders died in pain.
One word from him, a man would die.
His power held no peer.
He smiled, the kingdom celebrated;
He frowned, men fled in fear.
“None before me has been as great,”
He told his ministers,
Who nodded their approval.
“My people rest secure,
My empire grows each passing day,
My fame shines through all earth,
And God Himself must smile to see
The cities I have birthed.
My hands have raised this empire up
The way a gardener plants
And fertilizes green bean rows
And keeps the worms and ants
Away so that the crop will grow.
This work I’ve done as king,
The credit stays with me alone,
Not God or man or thing.”
At once an earthquake struck his throne,
The floor gave way beneath
His feet, walls crumbled, and the force
Flung him in tall trees.
Knocked out, he had no will to stop
His body from a fall.
He slipped down branches, grazed the bark,
And landed by a wall.
When he awoke, he could not think
As men may comprehend,
And aching pain jolted his brain.
He said, “I will not spend
Another minute on the grass
And will return as king.
I’ll pick my scepter up and seal
Decrees with signet ring.”
But when he tried to lift himself
He could not stand on legs.
He had to crawl as beetles do,
Although he fumed and begged,
“Great Lord of Heaven, let me stand,
A human on two feet.
I’m not a bug or animal
Who has the grass to eat.”
God said, “You spoke proud-hearted, man,
As though you were divine,
For seven years you’ll crawl, eat grass,
With morning dew for wine.”
“What of my empire, armies, forts,
Horses, women, and land?
They’ll crumble, fall and disappear
Without my royal hand.”
“My hand will keep your kingdom’s power,
I’ll guide your government
Until you know your proper place
And learn how to repent.”
For seven years he could not talk,
He crawled through grass and weeds,
His nails grew long and curved like claws,
His limbs, much-scraped, would bleed.
He fed on grass, drank the dew,
And slept beneath the stars.
He sweated, shivered, shook and shuddered,
And licked his wounds and scars.
For seven years he lived like this,
More animal than man,
He swallowed dirt and choked down pride
And crawled to eat the plants.
One night he tried to count the stars
And could not count that high.
He tried again and quit the game,
And stated with a sigh,
“Only the Lord is great enough
To make the countless stars
And form the earth and Man himself
(His greatest work by far).
The animals that graze and run,
Flowers with tender buds,
The sky, the clouds, the lakes and streams . . .
Man’s works are dirt and mud.
The ant can’t match an elephant,
The grass is not a tree,
A flea’s not bigger than a dog,
And God surpasses me.”
Sun rays streaked down through clouds above,
A voice spoke through the leaves,
“Your words reflect your heart’s great love;
At last you worship me.”
The Lord returned him to the throne;
He governed men once more,
But with words soft, caring, and kind,
Giving glory to the Lord.