What Rough Beast | Poem for February 27, 2017

Howard F. Stein

Welcome to the land
of no hope, but dread;
of no listening, but shouting;
of no love, but hate;
of no safety, but cowering.
Welcome to the unwelcoming land,
where trust is shipwrecked
on the craggy shoals
of bitterness and revenge.

Good morning to a bloody sun;
good evening to a crimson moon;
and good night to weeping stars.
The universe no longer knows
what to make of us—
nor do we, as every stranger
fears assault from those
who feel assaulted
by every kind of stranger.

Who will extend
the first arm of reconciliation,
to bridge the trenches
we have dug
with our shovels of contempt?
The hour is late,
but dawn is always possible.


Howard F. Stein, an applied, medical, psychoanalytic, and organizational anthropologist, is professor emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, where he taught for nearly 35 years. He is now group facilitator of the American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center in Oklahoma City. He is the author of 30 books, of which 9 are poetry collections. His most recent poetry books are In the Shadow of Asclepius: Poems from American Medicine ( Dog Ear Publishing, 2011), Raisins and Almonds (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Light and Shadow (Doodle and Peck Publishing, 2016). He is poet laureate of the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology.

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