a mixed report (c. 33AD)

A Mixed Report (c. 33AD)


In Gaza, where Samsons, blind,
Rage still at their Philistines,
And under the sun-bleached roofs
Of Syrian Damascus,
Even Ashdod by the sea,
A mixed report: a prophet,
A youthful Jew of some note
(Driven mad by heat perhaps),
Gripped by an apocalypse—
Like a cloud in the desert
Or a blaze in the darkness,
Slouching to Zion in tears;
‘He mourns his people’, some say,
‘And can taste their coming doom’.
But negotiations stalled,
A showdown poised in the wings—
Fears and hopes strapped to his chest:
Will he play Emmanuel?
Or ransomed hostage, Israel?

(Chris Swann, Jan 2009)

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