"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." Mt 10:34


When I was six I was given a globe--
A Christmas present--
We sang "Peace on earth,
Goodwill toward men"

America was patchwork quilt of states
And the Soviet Union a menacing red
Two Germanys, one Yugoslavia
A country called Zaire.

I spun the globe,
Playing that game that
Wherever my finger would land,
I would someday live.

Small islands, mountain ranges
Continents and subcontinents
Each a different answer to the question
"Where am I going?"

When I was six, I looked at my globe,
And noticed the name "Jerusalem"
Not believing it was real but
Another name I'd read in books.

In a child's life there are
Thousands of unreal countries
Which are all the more real
For the people who inhabit them:

Other lands weren't real--
New York, London, California
Neverland, Narnia, Tir na nOg
And Jerusalem their capital.

So I believed and unbelieved in Jerusalem
They way I believed and unbelieved
In all those places
Written of but never seen.

When I was six,
They sent me to school
To learn math, science, history
Reading, writing, geography

School is the child's life--
Hated or loved, where you learn to become
A citizen-soldier, a productive member
A fact-spitting creature of convenience.

In Catholic school you learn a truth--
For there is never the truth
And Jerusalem became
My omphalos


God said, "Let there be light"
And we've stumbled ever since.
God said, "Let us make man in our image"
And we've sinned ever since.

I read a word--"Jerusalem."
It means "City of Peace"
A fool, I once believed
The definitions of words.

Read the Quest for the Holy Grail
As I did as a child, and learn--
Jerusalem is the alpha, the omega
The beginning and the end,

Where Zion reaches like
A natural ziggurat,
Eden once stood, and we
Stole knowledge from God.

We are broken creatures, made
Capable of sin
And incabable of virtue
And God knew it.

When a globe is given a center--
Geometrically impossible, for
The center is everywhere,--
All squabble to be at that center

God made a globe, and I
Can't help to wonder why
He carved out one spot
And called it home.

The Great Architect's design
Is flawed, built on sand
As no mason would
And we are deaf because of it.


But how do you erase
Four thousand years of hate?
How do combat
A four thousand year grudge?

Did Abraham know
When he lay with Hagar
Did Abraham know
When he lay with Sarah

Did Abraham know
When God spoke to him
Did Abraham know
That his seed was destruction?

When Abraham bought
A small plot of land,
A cave to be buried in
A place to rest his bones

Did Abraham know--
Or worse yet, did God--
That all the tribes of the world
Would call him their own?

Three thousand years ago
Athens was a dusty hill, Rome a few mud huts
London a fishing village
And New York a hunting ground

Three thousand years ago
King David conquered the Jebusites
And walked on Mount Moriah
Claiming Jerusalem for God

David walked on Mount Moriah, where
A thousand years before
Abraham was willing to submit
To God's will and sacrifice his son

The son's blood was spared
So that our own blood would be shed
To pay the ancient debt of Able's blood
When God let a murderer go free.

The streets of Jerusalem
Has flowed with blood
From the days of King David
To those of the Templars.

When Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian God-King Marched three times against the city Destroying Solomon's Temple Destroying God's seat--

When Alexander the Great
Tried to bring Zeus, philosophy,
And the great pagan mysteries
And the uncircumcised, the unclean--

When Antiochus IV Epiphanes, tired
Of this strange, rebellious, "unnatural" people
Profaned the Holy of Holies
Though the world did not end--

When Pompey came for Rome
And in his cold intellect
Gave Abraham's sons small freedoms, but gave
Rome the city itself--

When carpenters and desert monks
Preached and died
When man and God united
And untied--

When revolution was preached
When zealots ruled the heart
When Jerusalem was burned
And the Second Temple destroyed--

When Rome grew tired of rebellion
Hadrian created two fronts,
Destroying warring Jews--
Walling off warring Scots

When Persians and Byzantines
Battled for the land
Where God walks,
A fool for man's love--

When Caliph Omar captured the holy rock
The rubble of God's seat
Where Muhammed ascended into heaven
And reclaim Ishmael’s place

When Caliph Hakim destroyed
Church and synagogue alike
And set in play the old blood-feud
Always waiting underneath—

When Godfrey de Boullion, in 1099
With Knights Templar, entered like a king
Son of Man, a second coming
Profanely claiming Jerusalem for the Christian God--

When Saladin reclaimed the city
When Richard Lionheart invaded
When Christians lost the Crusade
When they went home, hated—

And other empires take the city:
Seljuks, Malamuks, Ottomans, and British
All took it in their turn
All building it in their image—

When the so-called War to End All Wars
Was two years from its end,
And Allenby reclaimed
Jerusalem for de Boullion—

There was no stopping the tides
Of blood, staining the walls.


Salem to Mechizedek
Rusalimum to the Pharoahs
Urusalim to the Canaanites
Aelia Capitolina to Rome

Jerusalem! City of Peace!
Home to Abraham's Sons
The naval of the world
I'm tired of this naval gazing.

Jerusalem is the snake
           I shall not cease from Mental Strife
That swallows itself
           Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Never-ending, eternal,
           Till we have built Jerusalem
Full of entwined self-loathing.
           Till we have built Jerusalem

They promised me peace.
They gave me a sword.

Mary Jones © 2005