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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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    • The Suburban Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Lecuona 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Hey Teylina - Thank you for your comment. Tell me where we disagree; I'm curious about your opinions. I'm just asking tough questions. I'm no saint. I can be a hypocrite. But I ask a nation that proclaims itself a "Christian Nation" why we are the greatest military super power in the history of mankind while simultaneously worshiping the man who said: "Blessed are the peacemakers."

      I'm just asking...

    • Teylina profile image


      10 years ago

      Oh, you've done it again. Just when I thought my conscience was clear, you hit me with the line "Did he command the soul or write the Constitution?" Well put. We disagree on a lot of things, but some of this smacked me hard! Right in the heart and brain where I needed it!

    • The Suburban Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Lecuona 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @Jannie D. - thank you for commenting; racism is alive and well but it seems to be more subtle these days. You start by tearing down the institutional (laws) racism and then work on the heart and mind. That is the trick as so many are racist due to their own inferiority complexes. I believe time is all we have. As each generation passes the bitterness of the past becomes more and more diluted until hopefully one day (a thousand years?) the history that occured in our parents lifetime will seem like history that occured when the Romans ruled the earth.... in other words; just someting you dispassionately read in a book.

    • The Suburban Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Lecuona 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @Petra - Hello! Thank you for commenting. Betrayal is very difficult to overcome. True forgiveness would almost be a reversing of the hands of timeback to when you believed. As you say though it seems suspicion and prudence takes over; we can forgive in the sense of not hurting another with an act of revenge but would we ever give them our heart? And to impute human qualities to a nation would seem to require an act of God.

    • The Suburban Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Lecuona 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @suziecat - Thank you for commenting. I hope you are right. I'm working on my kids minds... as if that will help but they are the next generation. I also have talked to some school kids (gave a presentation about poetry) and they asked what got me inspired. I told them I was tired of war... the teachers just looked at me but nobody challenged me or tried to justify war.

    • Jannie D profile image

      Jannie D 

      10 years ago from Parys, Free State, South Africa

      You are on a roll SP! Your poem is very applicable in my country too. Racism is on the up and every verbal shot fired is returned with worse. Forgiveness is the only answer. Great poem!

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Mark,

      Pain as a result of bitrail is all around us. Real and total forgivness is rare; we may put things in the back of our minds and pretend to have forgaten, but we become suspicious and prudent in the process. Humanity has more questions than answers, but so is life

    • suziecat7 profile image


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Excellent poem. The seeds of change are slow in coming, I think. Thanks for this. Rated up!

    • The Suburban Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Lecuona 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @always - I think he places his finger on the flood button and then remembers the rainbow and shrugs his shoulders as he mutters to himself, "That damn promise..."

      It seems to me that Jesus leaned most heavily on those who abused their fellow man with the old law. But in the legend it didn't matter; those who worshiped the law did away with the one who humbled himself.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      10 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wonderful!! I wonder what God thinks when we make wars against a supposed enemy and use religion as the driving force?

    • The Suburban Poet profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Lecuona 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @Michael - thank you for your gratifying response.

    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Isaiah Michael 

      10 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      WOW! WOW! WOW! Awesome work glad I read this through a couple of times. Excellent work.


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