It Fell

Inspired by the New Testament book of Revelation and its images of fallen empires, which the author referred to as “Babylon” so as not to attract unwanted attention from the state of Rome.

See Revelation chapters 14 (v. 8) and 18 (v. 2), for example. I was intrigued by reading in Greek and realizing that a literal translation of what I’m used to reading as “fallen” (NIV, NASB, NRSV, etc.) might be something more like “it fell.”

The “unclean image” bit refers to the image of the wild beast, introduced in Revelation 13:11-18 and then referred to often throughout the rest of the book (spoiler: it’s not good to worship it).

I write in hope that, as protests bring greater exposure to anti-Blackness in systems and make it harder for non-Black people to ignore these things, those interested in doing away with oppressive structures and/or removing ourselves from them may do so; hope that we may find new, more equitable, more life-giving ways to live together as a human community.

It Fell

It fell! It fell! Great city Babylon,
its kings still crying make us great!
we are great! keep us great!
no one is greater than we are!―
as cracks snake through foundations
gaining speed and
mortar crumbles.

Eyes taken out, 
the kings are last to see
how public their humiliation 
in the whole world’s view,
last to admit that they themselves
lie wrecked in streets, 
in hospital beds. 

Let us resist their noisy clamor
for a normal that was never good, 
for lies of greatness bought 
at far too high a cost;

let us learn instead to reach a hand 
and pick each other up
amidst the ashes of the empire,

to pluck each other from 
the empire’s exposed bowels
like an unclean image
propped for far too long
on borrowed time.

We make the city’s ruined walls
our planter beds
and grow new gardens, 
learn to know our neighbors, 
learn to see each other,
learn to own and share our power,
pool our resources, buy locally, 
resist the urge to hoard;

in the fragments of the city
we rise up, find rest,
birthe fragile new 
community.

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