Rise

by Samuel T. Franklin

I.
God is green!
Besmirched!
Tattooed with the features of dead men!
He is sold, He is bartered, He is bought,
He is given away
to the highest bidder;
debauched defiled
debased denied,
murdered and thrown
to the howling wolves of bloody,
gleaming futures,
into the maw of the clanking dread.
Vultures hop wildly within our hearts,
and our souls have been blackly decorated
with vanity
and greed
and want.

In this twilight linger
the faces of the eyeless damned;
blinded for what they have dared to see,
deafened for what blasphemous truths they have dared to hear,
muted for what veracious holds they have dared to voice.
Off in deserts, in jungles,
in backyards and tool sheds,
revolutions are begun and ended,
rebellion-civilizations are thrust full-footed
into the shatteredpiercing light of existence,
wiping blood and dirt from their mouths
with hands that have clawed,
that have scalped,
that have worked,
that have cracked,
that have been denied,
that have taken and given and received a thousand times over
the assurance of a promised land;
where is that Eden?
Where is that nameless heaven?

Our eyes are given to images which exist only to persuade.
Our ears are given to sounds which exist only to amuse.
Our tongues are given to words
which damn us
and exalt us
and compare our
worth to a pinch of dust
in the curb of a road.
We are fed lies-as-truth and truth-as-lies;
confusion and belief have become lovers, bedding down
in the soft, weakened
skin of our misplaced allegiance:
we know not to whom we pray,
we know not for whom we work,
we know not why we stare
at velvet-lined skies and sing for daylight,
or meteors,
or tornadoes,
or anything that will make the stars less beautiful than they are.
Angels may cry for us,
and even some demons may feel a pity

I feel I feel
the mystery is gone,
the spiritual is gone,
the raging, intrinsic, holy of holies is silenced.
Our furthest fathers
lived in a whirlwind of secrets,
of life and passion
and hidden meaning—but now
truth has no power, and
poetry cannot save us.
Sincerity has been banished,
and the bondsmen of the world
have crucified our sanctities,
leaving the eyes for the ravens;
the sky is dead,
and we have been still-born
into its deepening night.

A storm now rears behind the horizon,
a sweet bilement is upon the air.

Who will rise up?

Who will rise up?

And into what darkness might we be thrust?

II.
Spin me into daylight,
shout me now into being;
let my voice break through
the shell and into the sky.
You hearts of the world,
you miracles of the earth,
will you consider my voice?
O won’t you hear
(please won’t you hear)
these vowels of quiet consternation,
this lone wail in the dead of space?

Pray for rain.
Fight for life.
Live for truth.

We are in trouble! screams the prophet.
We are in trouble
and nothing is being done about it!
What bubble cloaks the world from our sight,
its cyclical walls woven
with wires and phosphorescent screens
of dubious information and cackling
mad crazyfiends, of electric dragons
gobbling our souls through our eyes?
We are in trouble! screams the prophet,
because the shadow of the giant
lays stark upon our hamlets,
his terrible eyes raping our wives
and enslaving our children
and sending our men off in steel boxes
to be blown up in deserts
for a dead ocean of blackness, a necrotic sea of dark gold
to bring terrible ungodly life to mechanical horrors
which stretch and gnaw and rip through the fabric of our humanity,
spewing blood and guts and purple-green bile through its teeth
like streamers in a patriotic parade
for the sake of crossed wood
and woolen gods
and stars
and split-lunar grins;
bones and guns lay jumbled in a crux, crucified
beneath the sorrowful Moon
as she runs screaming through the stars,
crying throughout the heavens
for her lost, murdered children.
We are in trouble! screams the prophet,
because we do not know right from wrong,
because we do not know to whom we are accountable,
because we’d rather draw blood in virtual realities
than learn to load powder in defense of our own life.
We are in trouble! screams the prophet,
because I am a slave, an alien, a man foreign
to his own house, unfamiliar to his own streets
and byways and towns and families;
a citizen of a kingdom of unholy blood.
I now welcome the darkness beyond the trees,
I now welcome the unknown beyond the light,
I now welcome the end of all my familiar things,
I now welcome a black dust-wrought land of clay,
I now welcome eternal starlight flooding my brain,
I now welcome comets and plagues
rather than spill my brother’s blood.
I now welcome eternal damnation and exile
in an honest wilderness, an eternal vineyard
of thorns and rocks, where the wind moans
like a hopeless angel, where the world
glints hard and real as a knife,
where the bones of hell and slavery
are laid bare—
but these mighty structures,
these imposing, magnificent edifices,
these glittering testaments to our might
house a hundred hideous acts,
quietly shrieking without lips,
tongue-less weeping in the dark
as the death-warrants are sold and traded
and signed with hellish flourishes.
What depraved mindless fingers
have smoothed the hair of the world?

You are real!
You are alive!
You are human,
and your blood is red!
Scream to the cities,
scream to the streets,
scream to the governing,
scream to the listening,
scream to the warring,
scream your voice until you have none,
scream and scream
(for help, for ruin, for an end to the madness!)
until your feet begin to shake
until your hands begin to raise,
until your eyes begin to focus,
until your brain begins to question
the world brought to you,
scream until you rise
and break the streets
with the force of your stride;
you are human,
and your world is red!

For those innocents who sought to fly
but folded their wings at a serpent’s behest,
Rise!
For those who splintered their backs for goodness and love
and watched their blood drip into oil and filth,
Rise!
For those who slumped and raced
through education’s halls, papers whistling
through their ink-smeared fingers,
only to find a dead future beyond an expensive schooling;
for those who rioted, youthful and strong, dancing
frenetically in the streets, fingers splayed,
when a new president came to shove
aside an old government
but sold all those hopes in the name of politics;
for those who trembled and lurched
as they read the words of dead civilizations
predicting rats and vermin and fire
beneath the eyes of Heaven
as the beings of the clouds turn
their backs on us
and leave us alone in the dark
with our worst natures;
for those who blew their sanities to hell
with drugs and booze because reality
was better when their brains were on fire;
for those who let themselves be taken
in by a crocodile’s smile;
for those who ask question after question
and get false answer after false answer;
for those whose skepticism
keeps them awake at night with what-ifs and maybe-ifs;
for those who shove through their dreams to the light of day
with burning rashes of madness in their brains;
for those who are angry
at what is stabbed into their bodies all day;
for those who have no place to scream;
for those who stand in dark streets
and play chicken with phantom cars;
for those who stare into their lover’s eyes
and see a future consumed by
mindless, roaring uncertainty,
for you,
for me,
open our eyes:
RISE.

Hope for rain.
Strive for life.
Question for truth.

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About Samuel T. Franklin

Biography
A student of history and writing.