Holy City

has descended on
Jerusalem -
its Jaffa Gate
stuffed with stone and bodies
bones are rotting
and men are hanging
from the walls.

The stone is layered upon
the streets interleaved
with rubbish and the
a busy place for
ready to unearth
human misery
and regret.

The wall divided 
then came down 
the houses
demolished one by one 
old quarters foundered 
new ones made 
and fat men rode on 
donkeys, swathed 
in white to ward-off 
the searing sun.

The soldiers stand 
on the old walls 
watching, transfer 
their guns from hand to 
hand, to protect 
their palms from 

And in the shadow
of the walls
there are
old and dusty trees
wilting in the

The urchins run 
and donkey bells 
herald produce 
entering the city

from the hills. 
The carts are all 
in danger of losing 
The Crescent Moon
and Star, the
golden mosque
are defiant
despite its plague
of hunger and
disease rife
and moving.  Holes
in the walls gape
and the wind
fingers them knowingly.
The women with their
bowed heads
pull their veils closer
over cheeks and nose
and hurry by clutching
baskets, eyes
No-one sees the rubble now
the layers of place in
peace and war
the houses lost, then built upon,
geology of life
from cornerstone
to ruin
the hand of God has made
and left
as ranks of marching men 
push-in and go 
dislodged by war 
or hunger, greed 
for God defaced by 
And in the Sepulchre 
the old walls breathe- 
in the air of such a 
holy place 
where the Saviour 
does not lie.
He is up and walking 
far from home 
outwith its hypothermia 
and its snow - 
ancient citadel 
abandoned to its bombs 
and itself.
Your marble floors
unseemly rain
in pools that spread
wet ruin in the dust.
The ancient palm trees
lean and succumb
to time and fire.
Your hands are busy
where wine is wanted
not water,
your bread breeds
itself here
and violence in
schism bites
with empty teeth
the flesh of
perpetrators and
the mobs
fading into souvenirs
the Via Dolorosa 
does not sell.
This old place
of inhumanity
and time in space
is still standing
two thousand years
after you rode in
the main gate
and were acclaimed.
Then, you did not come
too late -
all roads run
to Palestine
and Jaffa Road
in spite of pain.
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