Astonishing the Enemy

POETRY FORMAT, 14 Jan 2019

Gary Corseri – TRANSCEND Media Service

This is a poem about people who challenge us to acknowledge our common humanity—and the way they are too often rejected and ostracized—and even worse.  I’m working in quatrains and a quiet rhyme scheme, but more important, a certain tone, an ironic tone that reveals the limitations of the speaker.

 “And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies
that dwell therein shall be astonished at it.” —Leviticus; 26.32

About Mr. X., we need not be too kind.
He was never one of us, but rather
Odd, the way he urged we keep an open mind
About things we’d already made our minds up on.

He seemed inclined to constantly upset
Our apple carts, not so much by anything
He said as by the way he’d sit and fret
About our doing nothing about suffering.

We never tired of explaining how
We had our lives and were content to fill
Our places in the Grand Design—or how
The world went on and on and men would spill,

From time to time, innocent blood, or
How this figured in the Great Necessity,
Was inexplicable, taken for
Granted, part of our preferred reality.

Mr. X. grew gloomier, began to quote
Biblical text about loving neighbors.
Our holy seers advised him not to note
Inconsistencies in the human heart.

I do not know when we began to perceive
Mr. X. was an alien being;
Or when, one by one, we came to believe,
For the good of all, he must be deleted.

It is ever so much more pleasant now
Without that vague malaise overhanging
Our transactions; we barely remember how
His sad expression made us all uneasy.


Dr. Gary Corseri is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He has published/posted poems, articles, fiction and dramas at Transcend Media Service and hundreds of publications and websites worldwide.  He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta.  He edited the “Manifestations” literary anthology.  He has published 2 novels and 2 poetry collections, has taught in US public schools and prisons and in US and Japanese universities. Contact:

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Jan 2019.

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