June 2008 – Poems by John Haag


History Lesson

That little ape that came down from a tree

and used a stick on his enemy

and called aloud to his family

to show what a great brave ape was he

made followers out of you and me.


That little ape that got caught in the rain

and used some branches to cover his brain

and thought up gods for rain and for tree

to explain away the mystery

made worshippers out of you and me.


That little ape that had more than enough 

and didn’t know what to do with the stuff

and instead of handing it out for free

put others to work for a salary

made employees out of you and me.


That little ape that schemed and planned 

and put a fence around some land

and told his followers they’d be free

if they fought his next-door enemy

made soldiers out of you and me.


That ape whose stick is his bravery

whose ignorance makes theology

whose avarice makes wage-slavery

and makes a cause for nationality

makes monkeys out of you and me.


Venice as Mecca

or Jerusalem

I sit here on the sand,

a holy place on sacred land,

remembering the tribes and clans

that gathered here, took counsel

and dispersed; foreseeing all

the ones that will arrive,

drink our blessed water and survive,

only to disperse in turn

to spread the word

amongst a disbelieving world.


Take heart, my heart,

for here is never lost

anything forever (but the soul

at times sent wandering

along some other plane).


It too returns home safely

found like a cache of nuts

the squirrel lays by against 

a cold day in hell, forgets,

then comes upon in time

of need.


The promised land is here;

The time is near at hand.


Dawn Over Venice

The sun, like henna,

bleaching the night away,

orange-gold glancing

off back windows


Making the chrome shine

on passing cars

then filling the sky 

with its golden copper


Fire-ball, the people

half-asleep, walking 

to Winchell’s for do-nuts

and coffee, starting


The good morning with

hesitant conversations.