Selection of New Poems by Joseph H. Chakkour – 2010

I am that lonely pilgrim

I am that lonely pilgrim
Lost in yonder trails,
A wayfarer,
In search of the Holy Grail!

In vain …
I roamed the distant climes,
Looking for Truth
To bid her my warmest rhymes!

My journey I knew would be long and weary,
So all my belonging I laid aside:
No raiment or food I deemed to carry,
The Lord I prayed for my needs to provide.

My troubles and worries
I could leave behind,
But could not doff away
My sins and false pride!

As a sluggish yoke
They clinched to my fate,
Slowing the pace
Of my dragging feet!

In vain I probed many a shrine,
In search of that lore sublime!
From hills to vales I roved the while,
From forests to glades, from isle to isle!

Alas! That Sacred Fount
Is nowhere to be found!
New roads seemed to suddenly branch,
From every point I’d painfully reached!

Am I to go on,
Roaming the vast land,
But to find …
More quandaries at hand?

Somehow I felt
The end of my wandering spree near,
And all I did was …
Add confusion to my previous fear!

The Father of Light
I eagerly implored,
To let my weary soul
Tread the right path!

A soft voice from within, as an echo soared:
“Here I lie … deep in your heart,
Not for you to take,
But for Me to give.”

Alas! This grace
For which we desperately yearn,
As a redeemer
Is to be earned!

If you were to come

When you are to come… would you be a Jew among Jews, like the first time, a Muslim or a Christian reading the Bible or the Koran … How would we know it’s you? The Bible puts you on a cloud, surrounded with angels, John compared your approach to the one of a thief in the dark of the night …

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A breath of life … and then a sigh!

I am that lonely bard with a broken heart,
Left to string the sullen notes of a missed adieu.

Where is my lyre?

How goes my tune?

And how am I to sing,

When all I know are songs of joy?

You taught me sweet melodies of a life renewed

And left me bereaved to sing a dream come-true.

If grief and woe are to ebb and flow

With the surge of an aching plaint

I have my share of that ever-pouring fount.

I feel that music going through my veins

To staunch my every drop of searing pain:

It soothes me but fails to reach my heart

Where lies a lake of unfathomable plight:

A genial heart you enthralled but to throb

To the bewildering rhythm of a smiling faith!

And now you are bidding my saddened soul

To sing alone the glory of a new dawn

Your hands alone have traced the orb!

I am that clay lying amorphous for far too long

But moistened with the tears of a weeping soul!

Where are my tools?

How fairs my mould?

Am I pliant enough?

Or am I that idleness still to endure?

I am that lump you heaved from a decaying sod:

What you saw in me then … I know not!

My sins and craggy pride weighed me deep in mud,

Time and remorse hastened my essence to rot!

Yet you came to me with a new breath of life:

A new hope to bestow and bid me again to thrive!

So here I stand between life and death waiting

For my new shape to arise and a better fate pleading!

So knead me at will with your doting hands:

Wrought me into any form your whim fares.

Let your fingers scrape away any superfluous part,

Till I become more pleasing to your generous heart!

I am that clay lying restless in a forgetful time:

My breath of life is the first touch of your tender sigh!

I am that tree that withstood the years

Awaiting the whiff of a vivifying zephyr.

Will it ever come?

Could I stand the blow?

Did it just pass me by …

And I was unaware?

There was time I had a happy nest on every bow.

All kinds of birds warbled their days away in tune:

They were assured of a harmless season of rains.

But winter came and my lifeless embrace

Failed to provide that warmth so much in need.

To other trees I saw them fly, one after the other,

Taking along their sweet melodies and merry revel!

There was a time my foliage rustled with utter joy

To feel the sunrays avidly filtering through my veins!

A glittering steam rippled gently beneath my shade

And they all came to bask in that serene landscape!

Now that I am bare and my flow has lost its glow,

They all moved away to other enchanted glades.

And here I am still deeply rooted in that decaying sod,

Ever waiting the scythe of a merciful wind!

I am that tear Time has shed again and again

For failing to welcome you on your every advent.

I am that piercing shriek the stars have heaved

To witness our crimes toward the innocent Lamb!

Though often you touched our world with a hope renewed

Yet all you retrieved was more suffering and disdain.

Is it that we are weltering too much in a scorching hell

That we can no longer recognize the fragrance of heaven?

We thought you would be coming on a starry cloud,

With Judgement’s angels surrounding you nigh;

But you chose to come as an ordinary man

Ever more humble … yet ever more proud!

We expected the hosannas to soar from all the Land,

But all we heard was blaspheme and hate.

You brightened our dreams … anointed our hearts,

Gathered some more sheep … and a lot of pain

And didn’t even deign let us wreathe your brow!

What will happen now?

         Are we to meet again?

         Were we worth all the pain

You stoically endured for the sake of love?

The Sacred dove

I am shat ship lost at sea,

With all sails set to the gentle breeze.

I left my fate to the wandering waves,

Swift be their guidance wherever it may lead.

Let the laughing tides ebb and flow as they please,

But carry me safely to the far-land of Ease.

I am a stranger to all shores,

Heading to naught anymore.

No bounty do I keep,

Nor distant port seek.

I am chasing no foe,

Nor shunning a woe.

I am just drifting through that boundless reverie,

Gazing the horizon where the sky touches the sea.

No regrets, no fears, and no idle hope I bear,

Save the sole one to see,

That sacred dove from heaven sent to me,

To waft my eager soul to the blest Land of Free,

Where she can thrive with joy,

And blend at last with its glee.

Roll on waving Sprite!

Roll on toward that crimson Light!

Pray that sunset be your last Twilight!

Pray it be the birth of your Flight!

Oh Lord!

I am that ship lost at sea

Let this erring life fly soon to Thee!

If a sign you are to ask …

When, having reached the nadir of despair, my friend,
You plead the Lord the promised “Helper” to send,
His advent you deem long overdue,
Our forlorn World gave you a clue …
Cast not your eyes up to the sky
For not long ago He passed you by!
And yet, this boon you failed to view:
Deeming it too beautiful to be true!
But He was here … and I stood by,
My wonderful dream to live by His side!
An ordinary man He seemed to be,
Yet no one like Him will ever be!
Ask me not a sign for you to relate,
Though He filled my life with grace!

But if a sign you are still to insist
Read it in my eyes, for there He instilled
The ecstasy of a long lasting bliss!
Feel it in my heart, for there He traced
A throbbing will forever mine to pursue:
A passing star… my dream come-true!

When, in your earnest search, my friend,
The secret of life you long to find
So as to give a reason to your life,
Or the mystery of the Universe to unravel …
Expect naught from a thinker who drudged to ponder
Over divine matters that are surely not his to discover;
For why would God give to common wight
What He withheld from His worthy Prophets?
If “Nothing comes from nothing” is a law in itself
Why shouldn’t it be applied also to our thoughts?
And if our daily bread we are expected to earn,
Why wouldn’t it be true for what we are to learn?

Yet the Lord, in His mercy, sends us a gleam of light,
Now and then, to help us through our fated blight!
Yes! I was there to behold His passing beam
And fill my want with a bounty yet unseen!
Look how my life changed, the moment my fear faded,
How, with His simple truth, my wrecking demur vanished!
And here I stand now, His divine message to convey,
For He left it for all to see … and it is forever to stay!

When in your honest endeavor, my friend,
A truthful way of life you finally vow to uphold,
Because your tired soul has asked at last amend:
A shallow course she will no longer wend,
Look for solace¾none¾in a friar, a priest, or a preacher,
Listen to their words no more, nor follow their scripture!
A fruitless tree you were asked to rend asunder,
So why beneath their shadow you still sit to wonder?
Is it verity that you are after … or a panacean relief?
For it is not theirs to give … but yours to sieve!

I was there when the true redeemer appeared,
And I saw it in His smile, love, verb, and deeds.
He asked me not to go on a crusade, or turn the other cheek,
Nor did He promise heaven and earth to the humble meek!
My sins He did not forgive, nor my fate did He forebode,
But gave me the seed of a better meed to sow!

Come! Taste His fruits and take a sip of His delicious wine,
And tell me if you still insist on seeing another sign.
Come! Let us glide through His rosary vine of fragrance pure …
The ones His fingers have soothed and His glance wooed!

When your realm is tinged with gloom, my friend,
And you so desperately need a helping hand,
On account mankind bade you no clemency,
And only your tears showed you some mercy,
Look nowhere for your deep sorrow to allay
For, like you, they are all lost and in disarray!
I, on the other hand, have been blessed to be near
Him who sang and wept true Love and Friendship!
He was the ideal father and the worthiest friend
Not even your wildest dreams can ever envision!
Ask me not to describe what then I did feel,
For only my tears would concede to speak!
Such a man, alas, no one will be able to witness now,
And yet, before He left, my memory He did endow
With delightful moments and an endearing care
That I am more than willing with you to share!

Oh, my friend! He was, is, and shall always be,
My reason to ever strive to rejoin His amazing glee!
Come! Listen to my heart throb and my soul sigh,
And tell me if you still insist on seeing another sign!

When the varied leaflets of your life, my friend,
You flutter through to peruse the recoiling events,
And if scarce you encounter there that brings a smile,
Blame it not on heaven, nor on destiny’s spite!
Like you I sat to question my persistent plight,
But He was there to shed at last some light!

He was the fantasy I dreamed of when I was a child:
A promise to my once-innocence, pure and wild
Which, alas, I doffed or lost since then!
Yet He came to remind me of that time when
I believed in fairy tales with happy ending,
And mostly His eventual coming I would be witnessing!
He gave a new meaning to my astray life:
The why of my woes and the what-for my strife!
Death is no longer a scything shadow that I fear,
But a key to the portal of Eternal weal,
If in my earnest endeavor I succeed to regain
That innocence which I scattered since aye!
If within my life a sign you still fail to retrieve,
Question not my impetus but yours, for there lies the animus to believe!

How could you not feel His presence, my friend,
When Nature hailed Him wherever He went?
Our weary world He deigned to wander
And to every soul bid her share of tender!
To the nightingale He was a new reason to sing
And to the pining poet … the long sought after link!
To the eagle He was the strength to soar up high
And to the lion … the reason more to be proud!
To dawn He was the orb of a reveling day,
And to the sunset … the twilight of a glistening fay!
To the wayfarer He was a leading star in the night
And to the night … the means to shine ever bright!
To the sailing ship He was the softly swaying gale
And to the thirsty meadow … the long awaited rain!
To the tree He was the whisper that rustles the leaves
And to the fields … the ember that ripens with ease!
The rose yearned for His breath to ever hold
The lamb … to rejoin soon his fold
And I … his smile again to behold!
Yet you are still waiting there … for a sign to uphold!

What was it all about?

What was it all about?
What do you still expect from life?
What more are you hoping to find
Others have not yet found?
And what makes you so special?
Time is passing you by:
The days keep rolling on,
And the years with the years have fled!
Yet you are still lingering on,
Searching your life away!
Deep within, you still believe
That life has a special need,
Hidden somewhere just for you!
Can’t you see …
It’s all in your head!

And if you decide to surrender,
To whom will you turn your steps?
Like you, they are all out there,
Jostling to grapple their share:
Bits of pieces … trifles,
Scattered here and there,
Just enough to entice them to move on
For another futile day!
And on their way, heedless they remain,
To shrieking hands outstretched in mercy,
Pleading for help … in vain!
They keep moving on, braving all throes,
Raising dusty clouds of dead hopes
Sprawled all along by those
Who, like you, quietly fell before!

To travel faster and farther,
They doffed their pride aside!
A heavy conscience they deemed not to burden
An already frail and drooping spine!
Their final prize, they reckoned,
Was worth another striving step!
No one is following about
To pick up the pieces they lost or shed behind:
Parts of their life, happy or sad,
Never again to come back!
And if one day they deign to pause,
To gaze at the road stretching ahead,
Would they be surprised to find that their eyes
Can no more scan the blurring horizon,
For having stared at the ground for too long?

Yet we keep moving on,
Wandering away … with no haste.
For us, it is already too late:
Nothing is to be expected further on,
And nothing of what we amassed is worth saving!
We are leading no more the way,
But helplessly groping along … tame,
Clinging tightly to the straw of a lame fate.
Gale’s destiny now prevails.
Its thrust we are no longer fighting!
Not that we have lost our strength,
Rather the eagerness to still build a life …
So too the meaning and reason of it all!
We keep groveling on,
And in every repining step we take
A sighing breath lingers behind …
What was it all about?

Soon we will be ripe to fall,
But to wither away
Like autumn leaves!
Yet no sound will be heard
In our eventual fall:
Other leaves lying there,
Will cushion our fall!
Into heaps we will be gathered,
To be scattered by the laughing gale!
Into the sod we will molder asunder,
Or feed the flames of a scourging fire:
A sigh to the sky will soar,
As a complaint to the Lord:
What was it all about?
If ashes are vowed to ashes,
What is there more to expect?

Yes … what was it all about?

Autumn has stripped your yester-fields …
And you stand there with a capacious bag in hand!
Dreams of castles towering high …
And some sepulchral stones piled in your land!
A stream of joy meandering gently by …
And an empty cup resting in your hand!
A crimson sunset setting in the far …
And a waning hope blurring your sight!
A dazzling rainbow embellishing the sky …
And a pearling tear blotting your eye!
A mantle of morning dew covering the wide …
And a sable cerement veiling your heart!
A starry night shining so bright …
And a guilty conscience bewailing a life!
A blooming field springing with pride …
And a cowering will running to hide!
A blushing flower budding shy …
And a trampled virtue boasting a prize!
A melodious harp quivering in utter delight …
And a soul in disarray weeping nigh!
A fluttering bird singing joyfully a life …
And a meaningless life pleading her last sigh:
… Oh Lord, what was it all about?

The Children of War …
[Dedicated to all the soldiers of the Vietnam War who returned home, not in a coffin … but in a body!]

We are the Children of war!
They trained us well how to fight;
How to gore a heart with a knife,
And from a throat squeeze out a life!
How to shoot strait between the eyes,
And savagely kill with our bare hands!
But they forgot to teach us how
To bring our eyes to close at night
After witnessing so bloody a sight!
How a persistent tear to quell,
When we are alone in the dark!
We are men … and men don’t cry!
So we stored our tears deep inside!
But how long can you withhold tears rebel?
And when they strike … they strike hard!
Inner wounds never heal, alas!
Their only cure is … peace of mind!
We witnessed Death and Horror with our own eyes,
And held them close to our bleeding hearts!
A part of our everyday life they became,
Until insanity drew us apart!

We are Children of war!
A dying friend we often held tight:
His laden brow we softly caressed
And whispered soothing words of getting well!
We gently wiped the blood from his lips,
To let him breathe his pain with ease!
A pleading moan came out instead,
Before gushing his last gasp into our breast!
He was gone … yet we still held him tight:
Memory does not die with a slain friend!
In a cold box his still shrieking body was laid,
And sent to his grieving family with pomp,
Wrapped with a proud country’s flag!
“Here lies a hero,” the bugle played …
And they all saluted his momentary fame!
A Medal of Honor on his tomb was placed …
A permanent wound in our heart was engraved!
And if dying in the battlefield was too heroic a deed …
In his memory a street was named!
And we kept feeding their Fell-In-Duty list …
As long as they had still streets to be named!

We are the Children of war!
They torn us away from our happy home
And shipped us to inhospitable shores!
They put a state-of-the-art riffle in our hand …
And pointed us toward the ugly enemy!

We did show him no mercy …
We were fighting for our Country!
With fanfare they sent us to the hellish front … in haste,
But failed to greet us back with the same pomp!
Yet we did all the heartless killing
In the name of our beloved Country!
But they claimed we could not function properly
In their peaceful unstained society:
Too much blood was now
On our once-innocent hands!
In special homes they stacked us to be reformed,
And buried their guilt within our walls!
They were right! We could function no more properly:
Too much dying was now embalmed in our brains!
In vain we yearned for a reason to live:
Too much suffering was flowing in our veins!
How could we ever face ourselves again,
When all we could see was guilt and shame!
And to think we did it all
For the sake of our Country!
The dying we did not mind then…
It is the living that we abhor now!
For, to dream is ours no more…
We are the real casualties of war!

We are the Children of war!
We went to chase out a despised enemy
Now he is safely living in our country!
They claimed peace has erased all signs of animosity …
But who will erase the suffering from our memory?
Who will wipe that ugly stifling hate,
That thorn deeply speared in our heart?
To the battlefield we marched with a song:
The bells were hailing our heroic fate!
Aghast we returned, mumbling a silent dirge,
To the beat of a deafening knell!
We are the ones who survived from hell:
Our reward is a slower death!
And if compassion in time we are to find,
We will soon lay down our weary head
To wake no more to sorrow,
In a senseless world of no marrow!

We are the children of war!
Alas, the bugle will not cry for our resting body
Nor will a monument be unveiled in our memory!
We did not come here to claim your pity,
For pity does not become worthy men!
Nor do we ask you our pain to understand,
For pain has become our breath of life!
No! All we ask … all we ever wanted
Is a tear you refused then for us to shed!
Let her fall where now we placidly rest,
For we have reached the end of our quest!
And if a worthy epitaph on our tomb you fail to find
Let us write our own, for we wrote it long time ago!
“Here lies in peace a child of war,
Happy to leave a World forlorn!
In our hands he entrusted his life and hopes
But we sent him to kill other children of war!
We came to bury our conscience with his bones,
And mourn a courage that, alas, is no more!
He was a child of sore …
To the Lord may his fate soar!”

(To be followed soon by other poems …)

Copyright © 2009 Georges H. Chakkour – Tous droits réservés