Wednesday, 21 January 2009


They hang aloft, stretching from treetop to treetop,
Serene and lovely and red,
Each carrying an unchanging prayer, waving in the wind.
They shall not be born aloft upon angelic wings:
They are for you.
Do not be surprised, you have seen them before.
Alone, they are nothing.
But strung together, they form a potent prayer.
You are anxious to read them all meticulously,
Reading the same message again and again,
Anxious to show your concern,
Not to offend either the message or the messenger.

Our culture, our creed.

The sinuous symbol, like a red blossom,
Less fragrant, less frail,
Is hypnotic, you can’t escape its stern gaze,
Anxiously frank as it is to show you the way.
And then, it loses meaning, loses definition,
Until you aren’t sure
Of what it is you were looking for.

Our culture, our creed.

The fluttering flags, each a fervent prayer,
Seem brittle in their diaphanous form:
Bits and pieces have already been stolen by the incessant wind,
And have scattered their seeds into other lands.
Barren, alas!
Quietly conscious of their might,
They seem to whisper:

Our culture, our creed.

You shiver, as the breeze grows stronger,
And the shuffle of the prayer-flags becomes a din.
The red flags flutter in accompaniment.
Foolish, they can never be budged.
Look! The trees have shrugged off the last yellowed leaves of fall,
And as they floated past those leaflets,
You could hear them ask,
“What are you waiting for?”
And they replied,

Our culture, our creed.

The papers are but sentinels,
Witnesses to the spectacle that shall unfold
Under the barren trees, strung about with prayer flags.
When shall we see that vision?
A great mass shall gather in this magical space,
And shall declare their loyalty with grave voices,
As if by a miracle united in their firm conviction in

Our culture, our creed.

And we shall see the high priests come and go,
With patronizing smiles, and well-rehearsed frowns,
Looking each man in the eye, and saying
The thing each man had come to hear.
The flags shall bear witness then to the colossal cry
The huddling mass shall fling in defiance to the heavens,
And the priests shall sigh in every ear,

Our culture our creed.

And when you can walk no more,
And your knees are mangled and broken,
Your dignity bruised and aching,
You shall look once more at those flags,
Watch as they flap so high above your bent brow,
Serene, elegant, and lethal,
And read again the universal wish,
The four ideal words,
And you will marvel at the perfection of this endless mantra:

Ei chinhe vote din.

Forgotten chords. Broken dreams.