The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Faith beyond Creed

I am getting very tired of the right-righteous zealots and Presidebt Bush saying how right we are, how God is on our side (which would make Him opposed to -- whom, exactly?) and in my head I hear the late Sir Richard Harris reciting the poem below, one of his own works. Today is as good a day as any to share it.

There Are Too Many Saviors on My Cross

There are too many saviors on my cross

lending their blood
to flood out my ballot box
with needs of their own.
who put you there?

told you that was your place?

You carry me secretly naked in your heart
and clothe me publicly in armor
crying God is on our side.

I openly cry
who is on mine?

you who bury your sons and cripple your fathers
whilst you bury my Father in crippling his son

The antiquated saxon sword
rusty in its scabbard of time now rises
you gave it cause in my name

bringing shame to the thorned head
that once bled for your salvation

I hear your daily cries

in the far-off byways in your mouth
north and south
and my cavalry looms again

in rebirth
your earth is partitioned

but in contrition
it is the partition in your hearts

that you must abolish


nightly watchers of Gethsemane
who sat through my nightly trial
delivering me from evil
now deserted

I watch you share your silver
your purse rich in hate
bleeds my veins of love

shattering my bone
in the dust of the bogside and the shankhill road

There is no issue stronger

than the tissue of love
no need

as holy
as the palm outstretched
in the run of generosity

no monstrosity greater
than the acre you inflict

Who gave you the right to increase your fold?

decrease the pastors of my flock?
who gave you the right?
who gave it to you?
and in whose name do you fight?

I am not in heaven

I am here
hear me
I am in you

feel me
I am of you

be me
I am with you

see me
I am for you

need me
I am all mankind
only through kindness

will you reach me

What masked

and bannered men
can rock the ark

and navigate a course
to their anointed kingdom come
who sailed their captain

to waters
that they troubled in my font?
sinking in the ignorant seas of prejudice

There is no virgin willing
to conceive in the heat
of any bloody sunday
you crippled children
lying in cries

on derry's streets,
pushing your innocence
to the full flush face

of christian guns
(battling the blame on each other)
do not grow tongues

in your dying dumb wounds speaking my name
I am not your prize

in your death.
you have exorcised me in your game of politics

Go home to your knees
and worship me in any cloth,
as I was never tailor-made
who told you I was?
who gave you the right to think it?
take your beads

in your crippled hands
can you count my decades
take my love in your crippled hearts
can you count the loss

I am not orange

I am not green
I am a half-ripe fruit
needing both colors

to grow into ripeness
shame on you to have withered my orchard

in my poverty
without trust

shame on you
shame on you again and again

converting me into a bullet
and shooting me into men's hearts

The ageless legend of my trial grows old

in the youth of your pulse
staggering shamelessly from barricade to grave
filing in the book of history

my needless death one april.
let me

in my betrayal
lie low in my grave
and you in your bitterness

lie low in yours
for our measurements grow strangely dissimilar

Our Father, who art in heaven

sullied be thy name

-- Richard Harris

from I, In The Membershp of My Days, Random House, New York, 1973
Copyright (c) 1973 Limerick Music Ltd


I found the book and made corrections to the Web copy of this poem previously posted. The above poem is true to the book from which it was taken regarding line breaks , capitalization and punctuation. --Smokey 08/21/05


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