Irascible Genius

Irascible genius peeling potatoes,
speaking a froth of word and heat,
naming and sentencing crime and sin.

“Better to have kept slaves,” he shouts,
and the peelings of his rage fly up,
“Better the genocides,
the ruination of the laws!”

Skins sizzle as they hit hot oil.
“Better the faithlessness to treaties,
and all our god-awful depravity of filth.”
Potatoes boil hard, get soft,
skins flick out to paper towels.

“Everything, everything, preferable,
everything forgivable, understandable, reprievable —
but never our abandonment of sacred earth.”

(Earth mother of mothers’ earth,
provider of what his imagination needs,
holder of his shoulders,
holder of his worn out feet,
shaking slowly into age,
they lower little by little
to his grave.)

Irascible prophet, piling potatoes into a bowl,
sits down with butter, fresh dill and leek,
his family around him there,
but he is starved for action that needs his skill,
between bites muttering, “We’ve got to speak.”

And as he climbs steep stairs to bed,
“Rise up all you lazy beloveds!
rise through the waters, fires and wind!
Scare us with the fruits of all we sin!”