‘The Call’ and other poems
By: J. B. Fite
Who calls to me in the morning
And bids me then rise and follow
Just as the new day is dawning?
Sloth-I would answer “Tomorrow”
And sleep through the hours passing
With a hundred dreams all hollow.
I do not heed the gentle call.
Not me, I think, at least not now.
Beset by doubt and fear of all
I struggle with the ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’
With ‘Who will catch me if I fall?’
With ‘Who is this uncertain Thou?’
Dozy drugged with too much living
(Or would it be with too little)
I stagger forth to wandering
Cringing, wincing, dreading failing.
I curse at someone as I flee
Though there is no one here but me.
Poor Vlad’s Blues
Poor Vlad standing on the platform
Cold, waiting for a train.
He’s none too sure where he’s going
But someone said Ukraine.
It’s cold out there on the concrete
Getting wet in the rain.
Pass him a bottle of Vodka
A pull will ease his pain.
In a coal mine near the artic
Shoveling to stay warm
Beneath a prefab tin village
The place where Vlad was born
A man went round at quitting time
And handed Vlad a form
“Mother Russia needs ya laddie;
Posh living you should scorn.”
So, Vlad went down to the station
To join the other guys
Hauling his grandad’s old rifle
And some of Moscow’s lies.
He goes because they told him to
He is not trained but he tries
And if he goes and gets it wrong
Then like the rest he dies.
Must it be I always need see my doom rushing at me?
Must I let go and count only on some hoped for mercy?
It goes hard on a creature whose maker asks it of him.
Was I not made to live and love free from random fate’s whim?
Apart from my lot, I watch a world of mendacity.
Is there kindness, meekness, mildness, or is grief all there be?
Is there some place where peace and justice in hiding remain
Or is birth into this world but a stage for further pain?
Do you require I be slowly destroyed for you to see
Or does sure destruction here make way for eternity?
Do we amuse you at all, there in the highest heaven
We little ones who stumble and fall, cast out of Eden?
There are many that lived who said there is no point to life
That the goal of our days should be the avoidance of strife.
They said of old, “Call no man happy until he is dead”
And from this world and its hurt, with soul or not, he has fled.
If that is so, then why do we seek order from chaos
And place on life a vital value greater than its loss?
Do you know in what bondage our unhappy years are spent?
Do you see how we lose everything that has ever meant
Something to us, something precious, something from heaven sent?
Is it that you once were here, taught us in love and then went
To some remote place of your own and left us in torment
Where existence is but one constant, lengthy, sad lament?
Perhaps it is that our natures are too low, too beastly
Too small, too craven for you to hear our incessant pleas
For understanding, for forgiveness, for some empathy
And as the Maker you now find what you made unworthy.
But even we low ones, created by your stratagem
Can, in need, praise your distant power and sing an old hymn.
What absent, far-off father can ask more of his children?
On a clear spring day,
I stood on Novikov’s bridge,
Felt the warmth on my face,
Smelled the sea on the breeze,
Heard the Thump, Thump of missiles falling,
And watched a dozen children die.
The sun did not blink.
The ancient enemy is in
The falling of those wanton shells.
It matters little lose or win,
Death lays waste to all hearts and wills.
Comes now the wind over the fields,
Searching, minding all living things.
See the smoke clear and the fire yield
To the one who compassion brings.
Call him, call him, ring, ring the bell,
Now is the day your soul flies free.
Bid farewell to this earthly hell,
Raise blind eyes to the light and see.
Mercy comes as it always has
To each suffering, breaking heart,
Loss remade as it ever was,
Turning endings into a start.