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.
A Glass of Pure Water
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