Haibun 09/05/2020 …. In the darkest hour

An American Cemetery – September 2019 – gsk’19

Slavery officially ended in 1863 in the United States but that didn’t change how white people acted towards black people in both the north and the south, but especially in the south. In that country an unofficial apartheid flourished in the southern states keeping blacks and whites apart and the blacks in a pejorative position.
When it’s said that white people have been raised to see other people (not only blacks but especially blacks) as beneath them, as outsiders, not quite clean, ignorant and dangerous… to be feared and mistreated that is correct..  The government had and has through educational programs and its treatment of blacks throughout recent history has followed a sad tenancy and been the lead in treating blacks as lesser beings reinforcing age old prejudice.
in the darkest hour
tossing in troubled dreams
no light is seen
There is really a lot of change that we the citizens must make to overcome that age old system of prejudice … because that bug in the system is useful to a certain degree to those who love power. The citizens have got to get over it and move on. Not by substituting brown people or yellow people for the black people as scapegoats and whipping dogs but by seeing that people are people and working together.
On the Day of Memory, though of course we remember the Shoah, which was another attempt by humanity at genocide let’s remember not only the Jews but also all victims of the power seekers who move forward through our hate and fear. I think our societies are guilty of many attempts at genocide in the past,  the present and if we’re not careful into the future.
in the darkest hour
fear and prejudice prevails
blinding human kind
We must begin to remember all the victims of racial and ethnic and religious violence. .. Almost 100 years ago the Nazis began their raise to power in Germany and Mussolini was about to form his first Fascist government. The Spanish civil war would soon take place between Fascists and Republicans. The Japanese would begin their Nationalistic war and expansion throughout Asia and the Pacific . Those who came to power could do so because they could manipulate their people through their baser fears and prejudices and their national pride.
To fight future totalitarian regimes citizens of the nations in the world must overcome their prejudices and fears or they will be just be puppets of war and blind participants in more holocausts. If the United States wants to truly be, as they say, a beacon of freedom, that great social experiment of democracy, it must become a nation of people free from prejudice, hatred and ignorance.
in the darkest hour
a nightingale warbles
who listens
(c) gsk  ’20

Lake Nasser/Nubia – haibun – August 16, 2015


dreams of men
drown ancient sacred valley
to better mankind?

What we call the Aswan Dam is actually the second Aswan Dam.  The first, a much smaller and lower dam was built by the British in 1889 and soon had to be raised as it was inadequate for its purpose, this happened in 1919 and 1936.  In 1946 a second larger dam was deemed necessary and a project made by Greek-Egyptian engineer Adrian Danino way back in 1912  to replace it and it became the second Aswan Dam began to interest the new regime that had ousted King Farouk. Under the King for a period of time it was suggested by a British hydrologist that the water from the old dam should be accumulated and stored down-stream in the cooler regions of Ethiopia and Sudan saving the old dam from topping over, but with the nationalist revolution that overthrew King Farouk, decided to build the second dam and keep the waters in Egypt. Work began in 1960 under Gamal Nasser.

I remember in the 7th grade during a geography class way back in the early 1960s reading an article in class about the “resettlement” of the ponderous monuments that would have gone underwater thanks to the new dam:

“22 monuments and architectural complexes, including the Abu Simbel temples, that were threatened by flooding from Lake Nasser were preserved by moving them to the shores of Lake Nasser under the UNESCO Nubia Campaign. Also moved were Philae, Kalabsha and Amada. Other monuments were granted to countries that helped with the works (such as the Debod temple in Madrid, the Temple of Taffeh in Leiden and the Temple of Dendur in New York). The remaining archeological sites, including the Buhen fort have been flooded by Lake Nasser.”


I remember thinking … and what of all those treasures not discovered yet.  Around 90,000 Nubians were also displaced as their land was covered.  Being in one of the hottest areas of Africa, there is also much more evaporation of the precious water as there would have been in the cooler regions, perhaps contributing to water displacement and creating the spectre of future droughts.

Many advantages have been derived through the many disadvantages of the dam and consequent lake, the largest artificial lake in the world by the way.  One can’t help thinking that for every problem we try to solve 10 new ones pop up.  Still it was a ponderous feat and if you think about it, in the character of Egypt itself … and much good has come of it.

© G.s.k. ‘15

This was written for:

Carpe Diem #797 Lake Nasser

I keep getting an error message from WordPress – 504 – I think it has to do with media. Please bear with me.

Amarna’s Destiny … August 10, 2015


“Young god, content with what is Right,
lord of sky, lord of earth, sun-disk, alive, great,
illuminating the two riverbanks, alive, my father,
the living Ra-Horakhty rejoicing in what is Right,
in his name as Shu which is in the sun-disk,
given life for ever and eternity,
sun-disk, alive, great, who is in the sed-festival,
amidst the domain of the sun-disk in Akhetaten;
the living Horus strong bull, beloved of the sun-disk,
he of the Two Goddesses, great in kingship in Akhetaten,
Horus of gold, who raises the name of the sun-disk,
dual king, who lives on what is Right, lord of the two lands,
Neferkheperura sole one of Ra,
son of Ra, who lives on what is Right, lord of sunrisings,
Akhenaten, great in his lifespan,
given life for ever and eternity.”

–From a boundary stela at Akhetaten

a dream and ideal
lost home of Aten-Ra
oh Pharaoh’s vision
Amarna resurrected
but forever abandoned

© G.s.k. ‘15

After the death of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, Amarna was quickly abandoned as the priests of the former religions regained their power under Akhenaten’s son, the boy King Tutankhamen (originally Tutankhaten) who, three years into his reign, probably under the influence of his advisers, restored the old religions.

He moved his capitol back to Thebes and dedicated many public works to the gods in hopes of reunifying and restoring his country to greatness which had suffered greatly during the reign of his father.  Amarna proper fell into disuse and the main part of the city was never inhabited again though in the Roman period a new city was built near the old site, perhaps the people felt the place was cursed by the gods!  Below is a comment from the Wikipedia:

“As part of his restoration, the king initiated building projects, in particular at Karnak in Thebes, where he dedicated a temple to Amun. Many monuments were erected, and an inscription on his tomb door declares the king had “spent his life in fashioning the images of the gods”. The traditional festivals were now celebrated again, including those related to the Apis Bull, Horemakhet, and Opet. His restoration stela says:

The temples of the gods and goddesses … were in ruins. Their shrines were deserted and overgrown. Their sanctuaries were as non-existent and their courts were used as roads … the gods turned their backs upon this land … If anyone made a prayer to a god for advice he would never respond.

The country was economically weak and in turmoil following the reign of Akhenaten. Diplomatic relations with other kingdoms had been neglected, and Tutankhamun sought to restore them, in particular with the Mitanni. Evidence of his success is suggested by the gifts from various countries found in his tomb. Despite his efforts for improved relations, battles with Nubians and Asiatics were recorded in his mortuary temple at Thebes. His tomb contained body armour and folding stools appropriate for military campaigns.”

a ghost
shimmering in the desert
abandoned father
as the sun sank in the sands
Amarna soulless city

© G.s.k. ‘15

Written for:

Carpe Diem #793 Amarna (City of Aten)

Faith with Fangs – Didactic Poem – July 23, 2015

Wisdom and knowledge
Slither through time
In the guise of a serpent
Silver or gold
Auryn to some
Symbol of universal renewal …
The only creature to defeat the proud dragon
In Chinese mythology …
The full cycle of re-incarnation
Guardian of the mysteries of birth
The God of Medicine
Carried on a staff …
Rainbow-god of the Ashanti
and to the Aborigine …
Symbol of fertility
And sexual desire
Sacred Kundalini …
Umbilical cord that joins all
That live to the Great Mother Earth
But to some
A symbol of trickery and spite
The most subtle beast of the field
The rod of Moses
That led his people to freedom …
To the first Christians
Symbol of salvation and eternal life
And yet now, the symbol of Satan …
So many names
So many qualities
I could go on and on …
From the beginning of time
The snake
Has walked close to mankind …

© G.s.k. ‘15

The other day I read a great article at  The Muscleheaded Blog about snake worshipping among some Christians in the United States … the article was really very informative and went beyond the oddity of that specific Christian sect and touched upon snake symbols throughout history and in different cultures … I mentioned that it would be interesting to write a poem about that subject, a stuck my foot in it as it were … so I decided to write a brief Didactic Poem about Faith with Fangs … the title of Chris’ original post.

The Ghetto of Padua – haibun – July 16, 2015

PHOTO PROMPT- © Sandra Crook

It was hot. The heat radiated off the white walls of Padua, the humidity so high that one had the feeling of walking through a steam filled sauna.

Being a tourist, isn’t all it’s cut out to be, thought Mary.

She turned the corner from the sunny plaza into the shaded walkways of the Ghetto, suddenly she felt transported into another, somehow simpler age.
Brick lined pavements in heavy shadows, where once a people lived, plying their trade. She stood before the open doors of the synagogue.

whispering voices
each footstep an echo
from Venice’s past

© G.s.k. ‘15


The photograph by Sandra Crook is of Dijon, France but I’ve placed my travel story in Padua because it looked so much like a photo of the Ghetto (though it could have been in just about any large town in the old Venetian Republic). When one says Padua now days one doesn’t think of Venice, but in fact it is believed that the founders of the island city of Venice were Paduan ( the Venetian Republic was one of the oldest independent republics of Italy which for the most part avoided the constant invasion and colonization of their European neighbours, unlike the rest of Italy).

The “Serenissima” instituted the Ghetto in the 16th century and though the Christians and the Jews mingled during the day, the gates of the Ghetto were closed at night from 1516 onwards.   For a bit of history about the Ghetto, not only in Padua but in the Venetian Republic, click HERE and HERE.

Written for Friday Fictioneers – July 17, 2015

Soulers of Hallow-e’en – Free Verse – October 31, 2014

“St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks”, Scribner & Company, December 1882, p. 93

Soulers of Hallow-e’en

Today is Hallow-e’en and
As the Veil is rendered thin,
We walk near to them who once lived
– Who walked the Earth as we walk now –
Until the moment when came the call
Irresistible not to heed:
… Come hither, tis time.

Tomorrow is Hallow-mas
– Hallowed be their names –
And so on this eve of their holy day
We come to sing and rhyme for you.
Asking no more than a soul cake,
We’ll pray the Holy Ones –
For those who’ve gone before you –
Yes, prayers for your loved ones souls,
That they may walk in the Spirit’s light!

Soul cakes tis all that we crave …
For our prayers and our hymns
To be recited upon their graves.
We’ll pass these days upon our knees
On Hallowmas and All Souls’ Day –
For the cakes you give to us this night.
We are the soulers of Hallow-e’en.

(c) G.s.k. ’14

A soul cake is a small round cake which is traditionally made for All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead in the Christian tradition. The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers (mainly consisting of children and the poor) who go from door to door during the days of Allhallowtide singing and saying prayers for the dead. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes continues in some countries today, such as Portugal (where it is known as Pão-por-Deus), and in other countries, it is seen as the origin of the practice of trick-or-treating. In Lancashire and in the North-east of England they were also known as Harcakes.   Wikipedia


In Reply “Can bards commit a greater crime” – Free Verse – October 17, 2014


Ah what gloomy times are these –
But are they worse than yesteryears?
Was woman ever seen with more respect?
Or was she hid behind veils and chastity belts –
And as they burnt her at the stake
Who’d have thought that ’twas a mistake?

Oh great men of ages – profiteers!
With holy titles and knightly gear …
As they saddled into the Holy Land
Did they still their steely blades?
Or did they raze whomever they met –
Knight or child – Christian or Mahometan.

Travelling throughout the world in time –
Enslaving – conquering – killing all …
These noble creatures of our past
Have left us, their children, quite aghast.

Though your words and feelings do you honor
And know I that ours are indeed times of shame –
Still might not a poet remind the world,
That the lilies still grow sweet and free,
Though they labor not for man – they thrive!
And, yes, that blackbirds still sing their lullabies
Disregarding the whims of miserable men
And these dark grim times.

(c) G.s.k. ’14

This was a spontaneous poem (so it’s rather rough around the edges) in response to a friend who wrote:

“Can bards commit a greater crime
than speak sweet words at such a time?”



The Sunday Whirl on Monday – August 25, 2014

Christian and Moor playing lutes, 13th century

Christian and Moor playing lutes, 13th century

rickety, cliff, cart, bones, language, sustain, stutter, absence, baffles, flight, longing

Reconquered Spain

I’m longing for a comforting word
To sustain me through this troubled hour,
I stutter a hesitant prayer
To sustain me through the fire ..

My rickety cart carried me through
The valley and then up the trail,
‘Til I came unto a very high cliff
And backwards I could not go ..

I flew from my “heresy”, Morisco am I,
And ’twas the only way I’d have saved my bones,
For the language of the auto-de-fe
Fills the streets and soul of my land ..

They said that King Philip’s victory
Would bring glorious peace to all of Spain ..
What baffles this sinner is to see
The Moor was more tolerant than He.

The March of Evolution – August 12, 2014

Keith Haring

from the innocence of angelhood
when humanity had yet to kill with a club
there dawned a thought … and then a word

invention and ingenuity
hallmarked the emerging species
using tools, he changed his fate …

solidarity was born to organize
the cohabitation of the beasts
into one cohesive piece

oligarchy bloomed
so the wise elite could guide
the less inventive sheep

then upon the corpses of evolution:
marriage was created
to regulate mankind’s sexuality …

religion to tie men together
and help curb his instincts
by using abstract rationality …

they invented organized war
to find an outside enemy
to keep the group united …

now they stand – masters of the planet
misguided bands of pompous angels
thinking that the universe was created for them

but inside their souls they’re still
innocent instinctive animals
who can barely curb their passions.

magpie tales statue stamp 185

Sunday Whirl – The Dust Bowl – August 10, 2014

Here are the words:

WordleBend under those pails of water
Too heavy to stand-up straight
But today we irrigate the grain.
The distant sybil of rain
Another ephemeral promise unfulfilled …
We’ve looked to the east
And then we looked to the west
Wondering what we should do,
To limit the dust wind’s damage
In case the rain failed once again …
Now, as we take the short shaded lane
The dust flies into our eyes …
Kansas is just a dust bowl
I think we’ll soon leave these parts.

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More Information about the depression and the great storms that created the dust bowl:



These were also the photo sources.