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Prose - Can A Nation Forgive?

Updated on June 10, 2019

Can a nation forgive?
Or must everyone die?
Which generation
Will let grudges fly by?

Did the Jews forgive?
Did Nagasaki forget?
How can the heart become
What the mind won’t let?

Did Jesus speak to you
Or to a nation?
Did he command the soul
Or write the Constitution?

Where exceptionalism is assumed
With a mandate from God
A people destroy the very ground
Where holiness once trod

It is written
An eye for an eye
But is this for Caesar
Or for you and I?

It is written
Turn the other cheek
But is this for a superpower
Or only for the weak?

Why do we cheer
The death of a mere man
When God’s own son
Gave us a plan?

Or did he?
Can no man believe
That which his brother
Failed to conceive?

You abdicate your wishes
Behind a curtain
Believing in the good
Your vote so certain

The republic gathers its sons
And its daughters
But the outcome is decided
They’ve already parted the waters

The collective never yields
The individual is a myth
Ancient documents pretend
To give rights to walk with

As the national interest swells
Our destiny is manifest
The chosen many
Marching east and west

Civilizing savages
Extracting resources
Stealing fruit from peasants
Mitigating encumbrances

The walls pushed further out
As we play in the yard
We pray before frivolous commerce
While someone else stands guard

I call for our memory
Of a man in untouchable clothing
And for the son of slaves
To bring peaceful reckoning

Beaten down over and over
Suffering the indignities of a lifetime
Laying down before charging horses
To show us power’s crime

What is the seed of change?
An atomic bomb?
Is it a flower?
Or is it a Psalm?

What have you been told?
What have you witnessed?
A miracle has occurred
And yet you are calloused

I speak to you now
As you smile
Will each eye seeks its mate?
Or will you walk the first mile?

And then the next
As it was spoken
But not for Caesar
For he will never be broken

Will you walk forward
And accept your mandate?
Will you give away your coat
Or will you always hesitate?

Can a nation forgive?
Can you or I?
Or will another a newborn
Be taught an eye for an eye?



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