Pater Noster Poem by David Brooks

Pater Noster

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Our Father
who art in heaven
stay there
and we’ll stay down here
in the mess you have left for us,
this bright and hideous confusion, the only
heaven there is or ever was and the only hell,
so intertwined they are almost indivisible,
here amongst the corruption and murder and the nevertheless
invincible glory,
the assassinations and the lying, the grief and the
daily amazement, the poverty and affluence, the anger and
ignorance, the cruelty and unexpected
gentleness, sun in the park and bird-flight
and the cool breeze from the harbour
and the papers and the air-waves full of death and repetition

we’ll stay here
where the nations clash in their incomprehensible military psychosis,
letting their own people starve
while the guns and the makers of guns, the ravenous makers
devour and devour,
here where twenty-two humans killed in an ambush is
international news but the slaughter of one hundred
million animals each day to feed their slaughterers goes unmentioned
like the guilty secret it is that the whole
civilization rides upon
(you a slaughterer, me a slaughterer, she, he, all of us, yet the very
mention is blasphemy)
and the moon too rises, strange and beautiful over everything,
sometimes white-silver, sometimes yellow as butter (and red, that
astonishing red, and people gathered on the street corners
gazing upward, searching for syllables and giving them up, taking their
silence home like a secret longing, some of them citing you, that
waste of mind, that emptiness [this no prayer after all, but rhetoric, a frame, a
conversation with an empty box…])

here where the slugs
gather about the dog’s bowl while the dog
sleeps in his nest on the armchair
and the spiders on the balcony and in the
corner of the bedroom
weave their miraculous webs – out in the park catching the rain or the night’s dew, glistening

where two out of five
are so blind there’s no seeing,
so lost in themselves there’s no
finding any way out
or anything but themselves
(and I, a poet, no excusing…) and we are all of us, all
numbed by the narcotics of our culture, the news and the misinformation, the
art and the music, the opera, the jazz, the movies, the stories and
gossip and vicarious living distracting each one of us from the
horrors and our place in them (and if you think this strange
in a love poem think again, love
so uncontainable the tax on it is anger, outrage, speaking: the
deal of it, the contract…)

here with the flood of work and the tumult and kaleidoscope of days,
the darma and the karma, the maya and the greater illusions,
the shouting right now from the fight in the laneway
and the garlic shoots appearing amongst the parsley

here where I sleep so soundly some nights and others
lie awake long into the early morning
thinking about such things, the in-
explicable and unorderable tides of them
and her sleeping beside me, her calm
inbreath and exhalation
the only rod and staff and
explanation I
know now, or need.

David Brooks

David Brooks

Canberra / Australia
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