Terry O'Leary


The Drummer - Poem by Terry O'Leary

1

The drummer beats slowly, the drummer beats loud
as he beats of humanity wrapped in a shroud.

Well he beats of the rape and the killing of war
and the mind mangling sorrow we blithely ignore
and he beats of combatants who're dying deceived
while the merchants of murder count profits received.

And he beats of civilians so savagely slain
and of bundles of bodies cast off in distain,
and he beats of the butch'ry that's feeding the flood,
clogging drains with our flesh, filling swamps with our blood.

And he beats of cadavers, by famine defined
that has ravished and plagued since the dawn of mankind,
and he beats of big biz letting oranges decay
while a child suffers scurvy and passes away.

He beats and he pounds till our consciences gnaw
and his fingers are battered and bloody and raw
and his hands are all broken and bleeding and raw.

2

The drummer beats slowly, the drummer beats loud
as he beats of abuse that we try to becloud.

Well he beats of the barons and princes and kings
who have broken broad backs with their clubs and their slings,
and he beats of the toll of divine royal rights
when the droit du seigneur sullied white wedding nights.

And he beats of the bribes that the powerful make
to the pale politicians who wax in their wake,
and he beats of the waifs bound by chains to machines,
and of slaves sporting nooses, and other such scenes.

And he beats of the tyrants in clerical garb
who have tortured with faggots and thumbscrews and barb
and he beats of decrees claiming all men are free
while ignoring cowed thralls and their agonised plea.


He beats and he pounds till revealing the flaw
and his fingers are battered and bloody and raw
and his hands are all broken and bleeding and raw.

3

The drummer beats slowly, the drummer beats loud
as he beats of the strength of the rebels so proud.

Well he beats of the spirit the rack couldn't break,
and the fragrance of flesh that was burned at the stake,
and he beats of gray witches submerged in a pond,
being swum to nirvana and even beyond.

And he beats of the minds that could never be chained
by the faith that was living while ignorance reigned;
and he beats of bold battles when Spartacus rose
having tired of shackles and slavery's woes.

And he beats of bent women who'll fight to be freed
and will never give up till they finally succeed,
and he beats of their progress, belying the jeers,
overwhelming the pessimists' fatuous sneers.

He beats and he pounds till we stand back in awe
and his fingers are battered and bloody and raw
and his hands are all broken and bleeding and raw.

4

The drummer beats slowly, the drummer beats loud
as he beats of the sights that he's seen from a cloud.

Well he beats of the passion when lovers have lain
with their bodies entwined midst a field of fresh grain;
and he beats of the joy when a mother has smiled
while she's nursing a baby, her newly born child.

And he beats of the sorrow upsurging inside
leaving shadows and ruins when loved ones have died.
Then he beats of an image that looms as a dream
of a time when compassion and love reign supreme.

And he beats of lush meadows pale yellow and green,
shining lakes in a woodland, a river serene.
Then he beats of a planet that dies in a sweat,
and of smirks of the dullards denying the threat.

He beats and he pounds till we see what he saw
and his fingers are battered and bloody and raw
and his hands are all broken and bleeding and raw.

***

The drummer beats slowly, the drummer beats loud

And he beats of humanity wrapped in a shroud
And he beats of abuse that we try to becloud
And he beats of the strength of the rebels so proud
And he beats of the sights that he's seen from a cloud.

And he beats and he pounds till our consciences gnaw
And he beats and he pounds till revealing the flaw
And he beats and he pounds till we stand back in awe
And he beats and he pounds till we see what he saw.

And his fingers are battered and bloody and raw
And his hands are all broken and bleeding and raw.

And his hands are all
broken
and bleeding
and raw.

Topic(s) of this poem: humanity, peace, religion, slavery, torture, war, environment

Form: Rhyme Royal or Rime Royale


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 26, 2012

Poem Edited: Thursday, May 11, 2017


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