Stranger Fruit

Friday Poem (0201)


The Story of Isaac

The door it opened slowly,
My father he came in,was nine years old.
And he stood so tall above me,
His blue eyes they were shining
And his voice was very cold.
He said, Ive had a vision
And you know Im strong and holy,
I must do what Ive been told.
So he started up the mountain,
I was running, he was walking,
And his axe was made of gold.

Well, the trees they got much smaller,
The lake a ladys mirror,
We stopped to drink some wine.
Then he threw the bottle over.
Broke a minute later
And he put his hand on mine.
Thought I saw an eagle
But it might have been a vulture,
I never could decide.
Then my father built an altar,
He looked once behind his shoulder,
He knew I would not hide.

You who build these altars now
To sacrifice these children,
You must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
Your hatchets blunt and bloody,
You were not there before,
When I lay upon a mountain
And my fathers hand was trembling
With the beauty of the word.

And if you call me brother now,
Forgive me if I inquire,
Just according to whose plan?
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must,
I will help you if I can.
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must,
I will kill you if I can.
And mercy on our uniform,
Man of peace or man of war,
The peacock spreads his fan.

Leonard Cohen

I taught Genesis 22 yesterday in class. It is horrifying and disturbing piece- "Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son."


  1. #1 Carigeen
    February 1, 2008

    Wonderful poem, one to keep.

    Here is a song from Ireland, a land where we have suffered from religion a bit more than most.

    The Island (Paul Brady)

    They say the skies of Lebanon are burning
    Those mighty cedars bleeding in the heat
    They’re showing pictures on the television
    Women and children dying in the street
    And we’re still at it in our own place
    Still trying to reach the future through the past
    Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone…

    But Hey! Don’t listen to me!
    This wasn’t meant to be no sad song
    We’ve heard too much of that before
    Right now I only want to be here with you
    Till the morning dew comes falling
    I want to take you to the island
    And trace your footprints in the sand
    And in the evening when the sun goes down
    We’ll make love to the sound of the ocean

    They’re raising banners over by the markets
    Whitewashing slogans on the shipyard walls
    Witchdoctors praying for a mighty showdown
    No way our holy flag is gonna fall
    Up here we sacrifice our children
    To feed the worn-out dreams of yesterday
    And teach them dying will lead us into glory…

    Now I know us plain folks don’t see all the story
    And I know this peace and love’s just copping out
    And I guess these young boys dying in the ditches
    Is just what being free is all about
    And how this twisted wreckage down on main street
    Will bring us all together in the end
    And we’ll go marching down the road to freedom…

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