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by Randall Stickrod

O, Jerusalem
O ancient spirits, restless and deep
Alive still, in this weary beleaguered earth
Speaking to me in tongues of blood and dust

I was there, Jerusalem
My nostrils aflame with your exotic scents
The bitter perfume of cultures in conflict
I saw you, awash with pale moonlight
Hard and cold on your stony ramparts
The legacy of your conquerors
The will of Solomon, and Suleiman
And the ambitious warlords of Christendom
Who failed to subdue you
Their spirit whispers through your night
Like a living current in your rocky heart

O Jerusalem
Your scarred beauty has drawn me
To your weathered and weary flanks
Across these thousands of miles
These milennia of primeval longings

On your rock-strewn hills of cedar and pine
The breath of the prophets lives on the wind
The temple-grounds quiver with power, even in
Their shattered ruins, King David's legacy
The triumph of the Jews, heralded
In your breached gates
And the bullet scars of your latest siege

I stand on your promontories, Jerusalem
And marvel at your incomparability
The wondrous din and chaos of your souks
Swarming with exotic peoples
And a maelstrom of commerce
The thieves ansalem
And add my voice to the multitudes
I stand where Alexander stood, and look down toward
The sacred rock, where Abraham
Prepared Isaac, his son, for the sacrifice
Where King David erected his battlements
And Solomon, his son, built the temple
Unleashing forty centuries of tenacious Jewry
The very rock from which Mohammed ascended to
Sealing forever your fated conflicts

I look over to where Jesus came at Passover
And condemned and scourged, took up the cross
For his ultimate destiny
Was crucified and buried in the sepulcher
And in the distance
The gardens of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives
The living geography of Christendom
And, too, I see the monuments
To the greed and treachery of Herod
And the last emperors of Rome
Who drove out the Jews in the great Diaspora
I see survivors of the Holocaust
And in their eyes a kind of madness
That suits you, Jerusalem

You bear the wounds of centuries of ravage
By misguided Crusaders
Come to liberate you from the Saracen
Ultimately to be hurled back by Saladin
And those whose swords still sing in the
Ancient rhythms of your nights

O Jerusalem, in your Sabra soul
There is none like you
Nor could there ever be
I believe in none of your gods
But I do believe in you

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