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Wilf's poem corner

The Temple


We laid foundations in the wasteland

Greasing the shovels with our spit

As they squeaked through bony soil

We heaved blocks

From baking sun


We called the sick there

We did our best to heal them

They lamented in the great cool cloisters

They wept into the sandy light under the dome


We set a day aside

For dancing, one for saying

More than can be said

We called a truce then

And healed the enemy’s sick


Our temple got burned down

Our relics got crushed up

The slanting rain would not pass

Through the empty lot where it once stood


We built it again

Working mostly at night

We built in honour of our enemies

We would only work when we felt true gratitude for the enemy

We would only work when it was enjoyable


When there was wine we danced

Calling out from the highest minaret

When the night was good and done

We sung a verse like a boundless '?'


Just imagine when the dawn came in reply!


So the next night we sung

The dawn in greater detail

Allowing the dawn to edit

Our dawn work with its large, meticulous eye

We called from the tower a poem that turned

Statesmen to poets and poets to statesmen; it was

Canonized then banned, then canonized, banned


People came

Remembered how

The temple towered

For everyone who died

A grove of beech or a mighty oak


We swept

We cleaned

We wrote letters.

We made a great meal, with potato, rice, pasta

Lashings of sauce: lutinizta, moule, remollelle

Jerk sauce, chili sauce, bread sauce, gravy


We invited the hungry, we

Invited the spoiled and the

Selfish. We invited feuding

Mothers, warring breeds of monkey

Bathing their mangy wounds in our mouths

We promised them we would love them whatever

We invited the wolf and the lamb to lay down in the clearing by the stream


We swept, we cleaned, we wrote letters

Of thanks and letters strongly worded

The children played and we taught them

And they taught us and we struggled always to make

The right decisions and do the bravest things we could


We swept, we cleaned, we wrote letters

And we looked back on it all

The temple holding the sun above the trees

And we said


Look at what the Lord has done


Wilf Merttens