The following poem, based upon T.S. Eliot's The Journey of the Magi (who in turn, was said to have lifted and modified the first five lines from Lancelot Andrewes's Nativity Sermon of 1622) was written to accompany an image, Phoenix Rising -- a response to the second anniversary of September 11, 2001. <!--break--> The image, which resulted in hate mail and threats, is perhaps the most misunderstood work of my art career.
'A cold foreboding I had of it,
Just the worst taste of the year
For the desecration, and such a profound desecration:
The wounds fresh and the minders sharp,
The very end of summer.
And grief’s bitter, vanquished, vasectomy,
Smoldering in the unforgiving gape.
There were times I rejoiced
The panic of the mighty, the desperate,
And the heavenly virgins brandishing men’s vulnerability.
Then the oil men sobbing and frantic
And flying away, and wanting their fixes and crucifixes,
And the hell’s-fire blazing, and the lack of reason,
And the city inquisitional and the skies unfriendly
And the coffee franchises filthy and charging high prices:
A crude time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to trade in liberty,
Freedom in snatches,
With the evil screeching in our ears, saying
That this was all Godly.
Then at dusk we came upon a treacherous pit,
Shadowed by a fractured skyline, reeking of burnt flesh;
With a bloody stream and a toxic smoke disguising the darkness,
And four cardinal points on the sacred sky,
And a shiny black hearse raced away in the madness.
Then we came to a white house with spilled oil covering stained blood,
Corrupt hands behind bolted doors divining for politics and profit,
And mouths wording the empty promises,
But there was secret information, and so we demurred judgment
And arrived at hell, a day late and dollar short
Finding the place; it was (you may say) predictable
All this was a short time ago, I regret,
And we will do it again, but it rises up
This rises up
This: were we led all that way for
Oligarchy or Oil? There was a Tragedy, certainly,
We had trickery and truth. We have seen truth and treachery,
But had thought they were different; this Treachery was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Truth, our truth,
We patriotically ascend from the flames of our complacency, this Complacency,
But no longer free here, in the new Justification,
With a deluded people clutching their sentimentality.
Why do I grieve Phoenix’s Rise?
Causes Clinton Fein Supports
First Amendment Project
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network