It is a very special time for me – together again. We’ve traveled far and wide. Met and engaged all kinds of people. Philosophers and poets. Teachers and leaders. Intellectuals and puppets. One-perecnters. The left-aside and the cast out. We’ve heard. Seen. Looked and listened. Been moved. Transformed. Taken on hills. Mountains. Rapids. Long winding roads. Running. With champions. And alone. We’ve not taken on the sitting-down-foot-up view of life. We’ve seen some that do. Fat.
The journey – hard – is sweet. The fire inside is, if not more, as hot as when we were boys – aware. This old rock just keeps rolling on. If we but let it roll by on the blindside it’s likely to swing around and swallow or flatten us as it does so many – far too many.
The View from the Cradle
The storm explodes around the cradle.
A roaring torrent of insults,
A deluge of viciousness,
The thunderous onslaught of blows,
A downpour of hostility,
A flashflood of rage.
The unbearable turbulence overwhelms the flesh.
Foreshadowed is the baton’s fury.
[The children weep for Rachel.]ı
Anticipated is the hammer’s wrath.
[The children weep for Rachel.]
The calm settles around the cradle,
Arresting the storm.
All is quiet now,
Except for labored breathing,
Except for a broken whimper.
A bloodied finger,
A basin of water,
No words are exchanged.
Violence gives place to tenderness.
In the cradle, the child weeps for Rachel.
ı A deliberate inversion of the verse in Jeremiah 31:15
By Ric Couchman
We carried ourselves proudly.
None knew the privation we endured –
The pangs of hunger,
The longing for a morsel
Our source of strength?
Each other and the god of heaven.
Our source of sustenance?
The nearby canefield.
The bare pantry mocked us.
The empty table taunted us.
Well did we understand Oliver, poor child,
And the widows and the fatherless,
And those overwhelmed by penury.
But we held our heads high,
Daring hunger to do its worse,
Refusing to be humbled,
To be brought down.
We dared to live,
While the wolves of starvation lay siege around us.
I came home that afternoon
And what awaited?
A feast, the envy of the gods,
A banquet rivaling those of kings.
Five hungry mouths.
The table was set.
No baked meats adorned its surface,
No wine to make glad the heart,
No desserts to transport the soul to heights of delight,
But a miracle lay in each plate –
The union of grated cassava, sugar, and water,
A feast like none other,
A feast incomparable.
By Ric Couchman
May 14, 2003
Prelude to the Journey Up the Mountain
And must I blindly follow Your command,
Doing that thing most difficult which You ask,
Raising the question whether a heart You possess?
But no argument from me will You get,
For against You I am no match.
Yet I rebel, not in refusal, but in acquiescence.
For in so doing I rise above You in morality.
No cause for worry is mine, no feeling of guilt,
Since Heaven’s endorsement have I acquired,
While Hell looks on gleeful, encouraging,
Mocking, awaiting the completion of the act.
Well that dreaded night I recollect
When from You the words I received –
Fatal and murderous words which none should hear –
Shattering a father’s peace,
Disturbing the order of things.
Well that night I do remember
When at hearing those words
The heavens and the earth hurled forth their protest,
Thundering and quaking their displeasure,
Bewailing the abuse of power,
The Despot’s whimsical pleasure construed as test.
Later that night I watched him as he slept –
Oblivious of the Divine plot,
Serene, peaceful, trusting, innocent –
Him to whom I gave life, “Oh, son.”
A life soon to be snuffed out, snatched away.
From fitful sleep this solemn morn I rise,
Lonely and friendless, aged and wiser,
But now with a heart of stone.
Of that which I was asked to do,
I cannot speak.
Of that which I am about to do,
Neither friends nor wife can be privy,
For they will consider me among those
From whom reason has taken flight,
Among those to be examined, put away, confined.
But far hence and in many places
Fools will analyze and expound upon this event.
Deeming me praiseworthy,
Those guided by faith will laud my faith,
Holding me up as its witness and model.
But ask any child – two, three, four, or five…
Whether such an instruction its endorsement has,
Whether such an instruction it would follow.
Note the incredulity in its response;
Note the resounding, “No!”
Note further, its belief that
No such instruction from Him would come,
For such would call into question His goodness.
But, ah! What does a child know?
Who would pay it any mind?
In the meantime, then, up to the mountain I will go,
There to confute existence,
To obliterate innocence;
There to affirm the Unjust,
To give definition to my being,
And to dare to confront the universe.
December 5, 2011
The Evidence of Things Not Seen
Into that place,
Where transcendence meets imminence,
They came –
Mother and child,
He hesitant, diffident, timid.
In that place
Where stained glass tell stories
And sculptures with wistful gaze
Look down upon votaries,
They stood –
Child and mother,
Embraced by the silence
Awed by the holy,
That place of last resort
After all else fails.
In that place,
They knelt, side by side,
Mother and child.
No chance visit this,
But by maternal love propelled,
A mother’s desperate heart
Pours out words unspoken
While he with staff in hand
And The Child on his back
Were those sightless eyes
Capable of sight
They would see
The boy’s adoring gaze.
But who could know
Those words of sacred whispers
That from that child flowed,
The nights of restless sleep.
Who could know
A mother’s anguish
While, daily and helplessly,
Upon her suffering child she looked.
The “burnt offering” is made,
Put there in the little box by the boy.
A mere penny –
Like the widow’s mite –
But a sweet fragrance.
From that place
They went, hand in hand,
Child and mother,
Anticipating, expectant, hopeful.
. . . . More Poems by Ric Couchman
The Journey – Your Radio Show connects with fascinating people sharing intriguing stories and novel solutions to some of life’s tricky problems.
Along The Journey we also track the very real and imaginary characters of three modern classics:
A Sound Byte Life
by Neville DeAngelou
“Everyone living long enough will slip, fall into a deep hole and look up for help. Three hands will appear. The hand of a hustler. The hand of a riddler. And the hand of a clown. Choose wisely or be buried there.” The Sage
Which hand will you choose?
Find your way out of the hole. Re-discover your golden touch. Escape the trap sprung by the clash of three superior forces. Defeat the demons of doom.
ILICET – A Time To Begin Again
by Neville DeAngelou
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