In the kingdom of bang and blab

“You will find no comfort here,
In the kingdom of bang and blab.”

– Theodore Roethke, The Flight


In the kingdom of bang and blab,

my dreams decay into half-remembered nightmares

the waking fear and fear of waking.

I saw a three legged dog in the road today:

theodicy with a severed limb.

A hadeda with ragged feathers

shambles into a heavy sky.


I love and hate this strange and brutal place,

it’s smudged kentridge landscapes, ghosts and erased lives.

Angels shuffle on filthy streets

Art deco buildings decay like so many dreams,

and children peer through hopeless windows

I am a stranger, an interloper, a witness

I trace my life with splintered charcoal and a blackened finger.

This same dog-day (would you believe!)

a pigeon with diseased eyes

flapped blind circles.

What was I to do?

I bought a gift box from the gift shop

thinking of gifts to the Infant

and placed the bird inside.

I’m a bad ‘good samaritan’ to be sure:

Rage is blind.

Rage as blind as a bird in a box

rage at the dull absence of God.

at the dull presence of man.

(What if God dwells not in heaven above, nor in self-righteous hearts below,

but in little boxes?



there is a madman in the temple courtyard,

cradling wounded turtledoves

and weeping over soon-to-be sacrificed goats

(and here I think of half-eaten smileys under a bridge).

Why does a distant, invisible Hebrew god crave the smell of burnt flesh?

Perhaps God himself is bewildered and lost

his maps obscured by blood and

the smoke of too many sacrifices.

The angry prophet has upturned overthrown and kicked the tables and broken the cages of our lives and strewn our sullied coins on the floor and scattered all lovers-of-money (who will not easily pass through the eye of a needle)

I watched the Prophet from a doorway

as narrow as the eye of a needle

“I am a cage looking for a bird”

The cages are all open now,

the birds fly up

into a hot jerusalem sky.

The madman runs

and runs,

to a green hill far away

without a city wall.

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