Heal the Cracks in the Bell of the World
For the community of Newtown, Connecticut,
where twenty students and six educators lost their
lives to a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary
School, December 14, 2012
Now the bells speak with their tongues of bronze.
Now the bells open their mouths of bronze to say:
Listen to the bells a world away. Listen to the bell in the ruins
of a city where children gathered copper shells like beach glass,
and the copper boiled in the foundry, and the bell born
in the foundry says: I was born of bullets, but now I sing
of a world where bullets melt into bells. Listen to the bell
in a city where cannons from the armies of the Great War
sank into molten metal bubbling like a vat of chocolate,
and the many mouths that once spoke the tongue of smoke
form the one mouth of a bell that says: I was born of cannons,
but now I sing of a world where cannons melt into bells.
Listen to the bells in a town with a flagpole on Main Street,
a rooster weathervane keeping watch atop the Meeting House,
the congregation gathering to sing in times of great silence.
Here the bells rock their heads of bronze as if to say:
Melt the bullets into bells, melt the bullets into bells.
Here the bells raise their heavy heads as if to say:
Melt the cannons into bells, melt the cannons into bells.
Here the bells sing of a world where weapons crumble deep
in the earth, and no one remembers where they were buried.
Now the bells pass the word at midnight in the ancient language
of bronze, from bell to bell, like ships smuggling news of liberation
from island to island, the song rippling through the clouds.
Now the bells chime like the muscle beating in every chest,
heal the cracks in the bell of every face listening to the bells.
The chimes heal the cracks in the bell of the moon.
The chimes heal the cracks in the bell of the world.
From the Author:
About This Poem
“As the dedication indicates, on December 14, 2012, a gunman killed twenty students and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I wrote this poem for the National Children’s Day event Within Our Reach, held at the Newtown Congregational Church on June 8, 2013—less than six months after the tragedy. The ‘city where children gathered copper shells like beach glass’ is Tirana, Albania, site of the Bell of Peace; the city ‘where cannons from the armies of the Great War / sank into molten metal’ is Rovereto, Italy, site of the Campana dei Caduti (Bell of the Fallen) or Maria Dolens bell. The ‘town with a flagpole on Main Street’ is, of course, Newtown.”
Hey Kevin, I know
I’m always talking,
but look at those
two little boys who
don’t know any better –
they’re using a king
as a pawn, a pawn
as a knight, a queen
as a bishop-and isn’t
not knowing the rules
where’s the joy
in shouldering night
when we can be carpenters
of unmade things,
flailing our hammers
whichever way we please
in the dark? I’m sorry
I’m talking too much
for this chess game,
but I get nervous.
Are there people out there
who say we’re dangerous?
When the sun echoes
off the thousands
locked in the morning commute,
do you sometimes feel
like we’re dressed for a party
we couldn’t ever hope
to be invited to?
Do the idling engines
Kevin, are you sure you want
to trade your knight
for a rook? Why is it
that once we take
our hand off of it,
we can’t take it back?
~Keith Leonard, Ramshackle Ode
In the water left from the waitress’s rag,
I made James’s face:
pinched salt for the scar,
below the eyebrow,
a fleck of pepper for a freckle,
bent straw for the bridge of the nose.
The trouble with my over-easy eggs
was their thin skins broke
with the touch of a butter knife.
The trouble with my coffee
was it took the cream and changed.
The trouble with me is that I can arrange
three words however I please:
This isn’t it
It isn’t this
Isn’t it this
Isn’t this it
~ Keith Leonard, Ramshackle Ode
I’m writing you
10 years later
& 2,000 miles
My mouth a cave
That had collapsed
You wear the
Hospital gown &
Such as the body’s
Inability to rise
I see your fingers
Fumbling in the
Pillbox as if
Earthquakes are in
I think it’s time
For us to abandon
For us to speak
So s o f t
The formatting of this poem didn’t translate when I posted it, for that go here at Poets.org.
A rose by any other name could be Miguel or Tiffany Could be David or Vashti Why not Aya which means beautiful flower but also verse and miracle and a bird that flies away quickly You see where this is going That is you could look at a rose and call it You See Where This Is Going or I Knew This Would Happen or even Why Wasn’t I Told I’m told of a man who does portraits for money on the beach He paints them with one arm the other he left behind in a war and so he tucks a rose into his cuff always yellow and people stare at it pinned to his shoulder while he works Call the rose Panos because I think that’s his name or call it A Chair By The Sea Point from the window to the garden and say Look a bed of Painter’s Hands And this is a good place to remember the rose already has many names because language is old and can’t agree with itself In Albania you say Trëndafil In Somalia say Kacay
In American poetry it’s the flower you must never name And now
you see where this is going out the window across water to a rose shaped island that can’t exist but you’re counting on to be there unmapped unmentioned till now The green place you imagine hiding when the world finds out you’re not who you’ve said
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.