Ross Mackay

Intolerance Part I: 1914, The Modern Age - Poem by Ross Mackay

Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking

In the embroiled stitching of the dancing halls,
the ragtime piano simmering through the air,
she sees the young couple's secret love affair

Seeing youth drawn to youth, Miss Jenkins realises
that she is no longer a part of the younger world.

She holds her face in her fingers. She's never felt so cold.
"Oh, that blank mirror stare. Is this a devil I see?
No, just a reflection of me."

And in the valley you can hear the black bells ringing
as she watches the meat for bones,
she turns to the shrouds of the wall.
The books of her life fall undone and engrained in
the silk are her memories of ballrooms and waltz,
the Battle of Sedan,
naked, clenched in a dry fist.
No one can see her misshapen eyes as they melt tears.
She falls out,
the piano tinkers on,
and cradled in her hands is the mirror which once held her:
as a child with her mother- the happy faces,
her first love,
her last,
and now the vagrant face darkened by years.
In her pocket lies the clock endlessly ticking,
out of the cradle endlessly rocking.

I watched the fiasco for over an hour.
My youth, spent amongst the willow trees at the end of the garden,
I remember the feathers of the mill,
drifting through the field.
My brother told me they were ghosts
and I still believe him to this day.
In my finest suit,
oh how I'll remember this night.
Won't you toast me?
In the fires of Troy,
I'll make icicles of the world
to be caught up in a Land of Lotus Eaters
and where the people cry at the sun
and where all day,
people hand their children to Moloch.
Toast me,
good friends (I stand with my glass of water)
and I'll promise to return richer
with the love of my people
I will sow the earth with wheat
and reap the earth with gold.
Toast me,
my people,
and I'll promise to never stop at suffering
and ride with every moment whether sadness or joy-
just hoist up my backpack and I'll be gone
twenty years and return triumphant
with mud on my hands,
or silk at my feet.
Toast me once more,
and may back head never fall,
and my courage never fade
in consent as I will not suffer
another year of intolerance.

Toast me.

Poet's Notes about The Poem

My full 'Intolerance' is rather long, so I've decided to break it up.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2012

Poem Edited: Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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