Nine Exodus Poems

The Moses Soliloquy

And it began in the wilderness
With a voice calling out to me in the night
Calling me by name from a bramble
For that is all that grows there
It was as if it was consumed in flame
For it was lighting the darkness

And I have come to know the voice
As the Lord I Am who charged me
And laid this mission on me
To lead the tribes of his people Israel
But I was afraid and told him so
To let him find another but he would not

I am changed somehow by this task
I no longer am the man I once was
But somehow I am uplifted
By the tasks the Lord has asked
As if I have climbed a lofty mountain
And have left the normal world

I am transformed by what I do
And no longer watch the flocks
In the night and no longer do
The bidding of Pharaoh and his court and
For all the wonders the Lord has done
This change is the most miraculous

For what I Am has asked I have done
When he said extend your hand
My hand was extended and
When he said raise your rod
It was raised and Pharaoh and his
Magicians were confounded

As I now am confounded by
The workings of my God
Who rains meat for our pots
And grows bread for our table
And pours water from the dry
Stone of the desert at my command.

 

August Rain

I remember an August once
When I could talk to him
But didn’t and each word unspoken
Rested like a brick on the silence
That lay thick as a layer of mortar
And grew into hardness between us

These days I think of him
Mostly when rain falls in gray sheets
With a soft hiss as droplets
Paint the pavement with color
Of an overcast sky and collects
On the road in pools in brought to full boil

In summer storms with the
Sound of thunder on my skin
I recall in the air’s smell and
The wind cool in my hair
An August once when rain fell
In mortar gray hardness on our silence

 

Molten Calf

This is the god of lawlessness
A god of wantonness
And animal appetites
It is a god of body and hunger
Of longing and wanting

That is my comfort
In these wild places and my banner
And standard in the battles
For I have grown weary and restless
In the shadow of this mountain

A god of singing and drinking
Of eating and dancing
A god of lewdness and wild gestures
Of revelry and release
In this desert place

And awaken my heart to the
Worship of the whim and
The adoration of the urge
In a wasteland so barren
In a world empty of God

 

Lazy Geometry

Lying prone in the backyard hammock,
In the combined shadows of the maple and the ash
I study the invisible movement of the sun toward zenith
And the afternoon light that pushes back the shade,
And when the breeze blows, just so, in the trees
I occasionally feel the sunlight on my face,
Fulgurant and fleeting,
A brightness penetrating just for a moment
The sleepy darkness of closed eyelids.

I have observed for long hours,
The serrated edges of each maple leaf,
And the teardrop foliage of the ash,
The boughs and branches rising,
Like arms of the devout uplifted in worship
They reach to touch the soft circumference
Of a summer sky,
Found only in the lazy geometry
Of a July afternoon.

 

Blue & Purple & Scarlet Stuff

And I know this for I have seen the fabric
On the shoulders of kings and their young sons
Cut and stitched and fit and formed
Crafted by the fingers of old women
With poor eyes that must hold the garment
To their noses to see their work

It is the colors of indigo and lapis
Topaz and garnet for I have seen the fabric
In the tunics of Phoenician princes
And in the capes of the captains of the Hittite hoards
The blues of royal hue in linen finely woven
Entwined and twisted

And in the embroidered pomegranates
That rest ripe on the hems of the garments
Of Aaron and his priests as they tend the Arc
Just after sunset under a sky that covers the desert
Like a cloak made with blue and purple
And scarlet stuff

 

The Tomb of Queen Amonherkhepsef

The darkness, I have found,
Comes in regular cycles
Like the inundations of the Nile
That floods the land of Egypt,
And bring a certain richness in their wake
That assures abundant harvests.

Yes, every seven years it comes,
Like the Locust that blacken the sky and
Devour everything that grows,
Both the green and the golden,
The wheat in the fields and the
Grain in the barns.

So bring me the last scribe who knows
The picture writing of the past,
To scribble out my history
In a stiff script of hieroglyphs,
A tale of timeless loss and the tedium
Of endless death and rebirth.

Wrap me tightly in these words,
Paint my lips, stylize my eyes
With charcoal lines, and brush brown irises
On closed eyelids
So I may remain awake forever
In the hereafter.

Dress me in fine linens like a bride
To meet Anubis,
The dog-faced god of death
And let the years pass like shifting sands
I will wait like Isis for Osiris, in a tomb
Until darkness becomes light.

 

Autumn in August

The unthinkable came to me
One night,
I felt her gone as a dream vanishes
Upon rising and gathers up its memory
In its wake.
Her touch is summer wind
In Autumn trees,
A passing out of season,
Like leaves in August
Turning brown and crimson
And dropping off
On to still green lawns.
A thing out of step,
An order confused,
A long pattern of seasons
Broken and gone.

“She is not dead. . .
But only sleeping.”
I say out loud,
Certain that
Autumn cannot arrive in August,
As I make loud radio static
And breakers on the beach
By walking alone through dead leaves
That bury the grass gone dormant
In days of dark clouds
That sit on the horizon
Like cats on a window sill
In the zenith of twilight.

 

A Slave’s Life

They say go and I go
They say do this and I do it
They say gather and I gather
They say sow and I sow
For I am but a common slave and
They a cruel and capricious master

Who cares nothing if I live or die
For my daughters are like sheep and goats
And my sons like camels and oxen
All my children in the fields
Are bent by this burden
And bear the rod of the taskmaster

And at night by the fires
Amid the smoke from the smoldering pots
I pray to the Lord who is my freedom
And my deliverance
Whose reach is greater than the Nile
And whose bounty flows more freely

 

Poem For My Father

My father was the simple man,
Who wanted things to fit his plan.
Not highly lettered this I know,
He never wrote a word although
He held strong views on many things
That dealt with cabbages and kings.

You see, my father felt that all good verse
In rhyme and meter was immersed,
That poems be written and constructed
With long tradition unobstructed,
And built with blocks called foot or feet
With meter pounding out its beat.

And so he wanted poems to rhyme
With meter locked in perfect time,
And all my verse not to his taste
Was ridiculed right to my face,
And they were set aside unread
Like much between us left unsaid.

And so this poem so long in making
With all the rules it is now breaking,
The lines have taken years to craft,
A life long journey toward final draft,
And all the words now come so free
And sing in tethered melody.

So Father here’s a poem you’d read,
One penned by your poetic seed.
It winks, it giggles and it grins.
It two steps, tangos and it spins,
And as every word now tows the meter,
I hope rhyme wiggles past St. Peter.

Doug Tanoury is primarily a poet of the Internet with the majority of his work never leaving electronic form. His verse can be read at electronic magazines and journals across the world. Collections of poetry by Doug Tanoury can be found at Funky Dog Publishing and Athens Avenue. This and other ebook collections of poetry by Doug Tanoury can be read and downloaded at http://home.comcast.net/~dtanoury1/Tanoury.html. Doug grew up in Detroit, Michigan and still lives in the area. He credits his 7th grade poetry anthology from Sister Debra's English class, Reflections On A Gift Of Watermelon Pickle And Other Modern Verse, (Stephen Dunning, Edward Lueders and Hugh Smith, (c) 1966 by Scott Foresman & Company) as exerting the greatest influence on his work. He still keeps a copy of it at his writing desk.