we know you know no shame,
yet still you invoke God’s name! God,
I am sick of it all!
What kind of god
inspires such devotion?
What kind of god has Man made?
Give me no more gods, please;
I’ve had enough.
And beware the lean and hungry apostles
who have plenty to eat, but don’t.
Steel, concrete, glass, and human bodies fall.
What mad man’s heart allowed his mind
to plan such death and destruction?
Oh where are the old heathen gods
who were satisfied with lust?
Concrete steel glass and human bodies fall.
What merciful god – or loving parent –
could find joy in this rubble of glass, steel,
concrete, and human bodies?
God of the thousand hatreds: pray,
leave us in peace!
Where is the life? The joie de vivre
that animates the child,
that brings such joy
to the world as my little daughters?
Where is the foundation
of this fear of seeing the human body
except as blown to pieces?
A child is not an enemy.
A fireman is not your enemy.
A non-combatant is not your enemy.
You have no enemy worse than yourselves –
you who find enemies on all sides,
you in whom
all truth resides.
You whose father and father’s father built
giant buildings of adobe brick –
some five or six stories high –
who were the marvel of the desert kingdoms,
the geniuses of the outcasts.
What joy you must find
in knocking down the towers of others –
you who cannot hope
to build anything close to Paradise,
enjoy the thrill of knocking ours down –
dirty little boys,
How dangerous the notion of Paradise!
How fatally flawed the idea of a Heaven to come,
for he/she who longs only
for the Afterlife
must necessarily depreciate life.
Better a good, God-fearing atheist,
who sees the folly of the invisible,
and vows to make this life
as good as possible.
Father of Lies, Lord, Lord of the Flies,
of germ warfare
and poison gas, of atomic weapons
and sabotaged nuclear reactors –
Lord of the Flies,
go to your Heaven – go now,
leave us, Oh Lord
of the Only Truth,
leave us to be human,
with some chance to be good.
Osama: your so-called God
is the spirit of Moloch re-emerging from the furnace,
Huitzilopochtli, still drooling thirstily for blood,
and Kali, she-of-the-thousand-skulls,
re-born as a slutty transvestite,
in sickening black dreams.
Dreams? No, nightmares. Osama bin Laden, I am
the falling bodies,
the lives taken more horribly
than those in the furnaces of Moloch,
or on the altars of Tezcatlipoca or Huitzilopochli.
Your troops are ready – your Assassins,
your Thugs, are religiously well trained,
have memorized the Koran,
and learned nothing from it,
and have been carefully taught to love
the invisible and a never-coming Paradise,
and to try to kill all the rest of humanity,
God! I am sick of it all!
I’ve had enough of your God, of our God,
of everybody’s God who expresses the basest,
most murderous instincts of mankind.
Kali! Moloch! Tezcatlipoca! The Christ
of the Crusades, and of both Irelands!
They live! They live!
thanks to the visions
of those who preach of The Merciful God.
I see a new Huitzilopochtli,
a tribal god,
limping in from the desert,
all-too-ready to skin your daughter,
and make your blood run like water.
I see man’s murderous instincts released
from the confines of civilization.
Osama bin Laden: sicker than a vomiting dog,
go – go with the Aztec Goddess Tlazolteotl,
your own filth –
and hasten – yes, hasten – to your Paradise!
Osama bin Laden: may your tribe decrease!
ABOU BEN ADHEM
(arranged in order of their appearance in the poem)
joie de vivre: French for "joy of life."
Father of Lies: A reference to the New Testament's "Book of John" 8:44: "You are of [your] father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature], for he is a liar and the father of lies" (translation: New American Standard Bible.)
Lord of the Flies: English for "Baalzebub" (Hebrew, Baal-Zevuv) used in the Torah (the Christian Bible's Old Testament) at Second Kings, 1:2-16. The phrase appears to be a deliberately pejorative corruption of the words "Baal-Zebul" (Baal-the-Prince), the name of the god of the Philistine city of Ekron. Although there is nothing demonic about this god (one of many Baals [Lords or Masters] in the ancient Mideast), the name was used in the late 4th Century A.D. by St. Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymous, translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible) as one of several Biblical terms (including Lucifer, Satan, and the serpent of the Book of Genesis) to give Biblical authority to the then-new ecclesiastical concept of a "Devil," which was developed (along with the parallel concept of "Hell") to promote recruitment into the Christian Faith by promising punishment for those who failed to become adherents.
Jews responded by developing similar concepts, promoting them through references in the Kaballah. And Islam, developed later, also makes use the concept of a "Hell."
Moloch: Biblical name for a sun or fire god worshiped by several peoples in the ancient Middle East, including some erring Israelites. Children sacrificed to this god were made to "pass through fire."
Huitzilopochtli: The Aztec tribal god (Mexico), to whom sacrifices of human hearts were offered in great abundance.
Kali: Hindu goddess of creation and destruction, usually depicted wearing a necklace of skulls. Best known in the West for killings carried out in her honor by the Thugs (q.v.).
Tezcatlipoca: The Aztec god of the night, whose name means "obsidian [black] mirror," and for whom human hearts also were torn from living human victims.
Assassins: Although this word now can refer to any persons who kill others for political, religious, or ideological reasons, it began as an Arabic term, hashshashin, meaning "hashhash users," for members of a Moslem secret society who, during the time of the Christian Crusades, killed Christians or other enemies while under the influence of that drug.
Koran or Qu'ran: Principal holy book of the Moslems. Education in some conservative Moslem countries consists almost entirely in memorizing this Seventh-century work by the Prophet Mohammad.
The Merciful God: an expression used to describe numerous gods, including specifically the "One God" of Islam and Christianity.
"Skin your daughter": reference to a 14th Century incident in which the Aztecs of Mexico provoked a war with a neighboring city-state by skinning the daughter of the visiting king of the neighboring state, supposedly as a sacrifice to the god of spring, Xipe Totec.
"Make … blood run like water": see Huitzilopochtli, supra.
Thugs: Anglicization of the Hindi term Thuggee, the members of a cult who worshipped the goddess Kali (q.v.) by strangling mostly passing travelers.
Tlazolteotl: Aztec goddess of childbirth, but also the "eater of filth," whose actions cleansed the soul, and prepared sinners for death.
"… May his tribe decrease": To understand this line, see the following classic poem by the English poet Leigh Hunt (1784-1859). Hunt based this poem on a story in D'Herbelot's Bibliothèque Orientale (1781):
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold.
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" -The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
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ABOU BEN ADHEM