“The Bearded Prophet"

“The Bearded Prophet”


“This Dumb Hillbilly has a few more things up

It’s sleeve and it’ll make a go of every one before it

              Rolls over.”

We all say things like that to fill the dull hours

And only we know we mean it. I’ve seen only

              A handful

Give up before they’re really beat. Clock

Rings out the hours. I’m used to insomnia.

              That’s when

The images creep in, like a hall of mirrors

Until the screen rolls with inertia, nausea, and

              I want to

Scream “there are too many images here!”

That’s when he laughs – his cock-eyed smile

              On backwards.

“What is it you’re afraid of seeing, girl?”

“A golden ball corroded. A dream beyond reaching.”

              I breathe.

He laughs and I know that I will

              See it.


Looking through my small window on the world:

A crockpot boiling over and unattended, I am

Drawn within.

                             It is a nightmare from which

We cannot wake alone – O, Scream, in you there

Is only surface relief,

                             Like veneer that cracks

Under the first test of strength. Tinsel cover

Crinkled to a wad.

                             Don’t examine. Don’t investigate. Don’t question.

They encourage numb credulity: on our knees

We pray to whom they say

                             And fold hope like

Origami: the paper bird can fly at will and

Examine and investigate and question

                             Until it’s blue

In the face. It is companion to the bearded

Prophet who still totes his sign:

                             “The End of the World

Is Near.” From whom we turn away when

We pass. With no other excuse than that

                             They told us to.


Strip-mines open above us like deserts on top of

Green mountains, like beacons for the eyes, like wounds

That we all carry, eyes brimming over the weight of the world.

My grandmother’s blind neighbor used to visit, sit

Pensive in the living room and touching our faces gently,

Eagerly, taking in every inch, saying she could “see” how

Much we’d grown, the frustration of it on her tongue

Like spittle clinging.

The general feeling worldwide was embodied there.

Anger ready to break violent (gives no relief) like

Thunderstorms over Indiana. We sway like a field

Of corn – helpless and terrified. When will the

Gales be finished and blown out like our hearts?

Don’t breathe – just wait – I’m looking up into

The hail, praying faster than my lips can keep

Up with. Hope resides in higher places and

I reach for it – my limbs feel like they’re separating.

It’s there, but I can’t reach it tonight – frustration

Like spittle clinging. Maybe tomorrow

My hope will cling and grow.


The sagging line of grey bodies – mankind –

Knowing no one cares beyond a glance.

This is the era of pain – stampeding pain –

We stand guarded, still crushed and overwhelmed.

Everyone is wounded; it festers up like a canker sore,

And we’re always looking for the antibiotic cream,

We are like herbicided trees – everything

Eight-feet and down shriveled brown, uglied, and

Rendered unpalatable. So where do you get off

Judging? Myself – I cling to the bearded prophet

Who only of us carries hope – he is my

Sanity, stability. Slippery heart is for

Adhesive hands, if those exist. Top that

With what you call remedy: a laughingstock.


I met you underneath the leaf-out redbud tree

              By appointment.

                                           You sat cross-legged in the grass

And the earth framed your face. You were heavy

              As creation

                                           In your conversation – too loaded

To be comfortable. “The problem with the world today is

              Its godlessness.”

                                           You decided. I had to

Agree while I fumbled with the leaf I found on

              The ground

                                           And studied its veins like

A roadmap to the inner soul of the world, praying

              It would

                                           Come to more than greed.

I’m not sure it’s always good to lose your girlish


                                           And I was snatching at the

Remnants of mine. You wore the set expression of


                                           “We’ll show them the errors

Of their ways. We’ll bring God to them.”

              I said.

                                           You sat there unmoved,

Your stare fixed as if you had not heard, so I

              Made up

                                           My own sign to march

With in time. “The End of the World Is Near.”

-Sabne Raznik 
From "Following Hope" (Xlibris, 2007)


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