Thursday, July 23, 2015
Poem of the Day: “Another Prophet” by Irena Pasvinter
Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Another Prophet” by Irena Pasvinter. Ms. Pasvinter was born in a country no longer found on maps in a town called Gomel, which in time became uncomfortably close to Chernobyl. She studied electrical engineering in Moscow and returned home with a Master’s degree. In 1994 she moved to Israel, where she converted into a software engineer and infiltrated the haven of local hi-tech.
Pasvinter’s stories and poems have appeared in numerous online magazines including: Every Day Poets, Every Day Fiction, Bartleby Snopes, Madswirl, Camroc Press, Fiction 365, Fiction on the Web, and many others, as well as in print in Poetry Quarterly and other venues. Her poem "Psalm 3.14159..." (first published in Postcard Poems & Prose) was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Pasvinter owes her rich intellectual life to steady traffic jams in the Tel Aviv area; they allow her to consume lots of audio books, lectures, and foreign language courses. She is currently working on her first novel. To find out more about her literary adventures, visit https://sites.google.com/site/ipscribblings/.
He is spitting out the words of God
Through the fence of his rotten teeth.
His haggard body is tied in a knot,
Tangled beard is plastered with grease.
Just another prophet with cackling laugh,
Poor showman and lousy crook,
Lonely madman, sadly not mad enough
For the plot of the Holy Book.
In his youth he preached forgiveness and love,
Walked on puddles and acted odd,
But no traitor cared for him. It's tough
To be sold as the Son of God.
Now he preaches hatred, his lips are sealed
With white foam of ending days,
But at least his people will not be killed
To glorify him and his ways.
Poet’s Notes: Human history is overpopulated with people claiming to be messiahs, prophets, and other kinds of divine representatives. Some of them gained immortality by making it into sacred books; others were even more successful and founded influential religions; while the less prominent quickly went out of fashion, often not without painful consequences.
As with any area of human activity, there must have been numerous prophets who were hopelessly bad at pursuing their careers. “Another Prophet” was born out of an attempt to imagine such a second-rate prophet at the end of his life. One day a line popped into my mind, and I immediately recognized it as the first line of the prophet’s poem. Its rhythm suggested the ensuing lines would not mind rhyming, which they did, in due course, in spite of the widespread discrimination against rhyming poetry in the modern poetic world.
Editor’s Note: This one reminds me a bit of a scene from Monty Python's The Life of Brian, a satire that really speaks to me and that would, if re-released, especially resonate today. The last stanza nicely summarizes how Christianity has been perverted to justify anti-Semitism and, though less of a direct analogy, how Islam has been used to justify terror and jihad. Sadly, the topic is so timely that I considered featuring “Another Prophet” as a "current events poem."