Bringing Down Benjamin

Bringing Down Benjamin

A Poem by C.T. Bailey
"

New slam poem for upcoming spoken word event being held at the Kingsport Renaissance Center on December 9th.

"

Bringing Down Benjamin

 

They are Soldiers-of-Fortune.

Regiments of tree-felling troops

move across mountains, across valleys,

across plateaus of forest,

toting the hardware of destruction:

saws, axes - driving heavy tracked-trucks

with shears that cut swaths twenty-feet wide

through lush thickets of oak and poplar,

even as they stand resolute and stoic,

rank and file, against these warriors.

If you are standing

a ridge away, you can hear them scream

as soldier-ants of men mark giants with

red ribbons, press cold steel blades to their bodies,

slice through fifty years of wind,

fifty years of blight,

fifty years of drought,

all in the name of building better, bigger.

I think I know what the aged oaks cry out

to the cutters below them:

“Leave him, take me, he is too

young, he has not grown to maturity,

his seed has not fallen to the earth,”

they shriek, doing all possible to wrap limb and leaf

around the falling bodies beside them, finally,

ultimately, surrendering themselves as loggers

put the ax to their old, tired, fleshy bark.

And soon, the battlefield reeks

of victory and diesel fumes.

They slay every living tree,

conquer every square yard,

and the carcasses lie criss-cross over

one another.

But, this poem is not about the clear-cutting

of forests or the capitalistic

over-harvesting of trees. 

This poem about my Redwood tall son, who

at seven, paraded about the redoubts of Yorktown, 

plastic sword waving in hand;

at nine demanded his Cub Scout uniform be pressed;

and as a teenager, perfects his skill in cutting timber

and stacking the cordwood, one first-person shooter

game at a time.

I sometimes feel 

as though I've failed the boy,

allowing the world to condition 

his senses to death and destruction.

I can never be convinced the game rating 'M' stands for 'Mature',

it stands for 'Misleading',

it stands for 'Marketing',

it stands for 'Massacre',

but it can never stand for 'Mature'.

I watch as he 'gets the drop' on  

a digital enemy.  As the pixelated body

crumples to the the ground, I swear I can hear 

the computer-generated scream of another mother

and I realize the things

I should have said to the boy,

“Benjamin, heal the sick Son, save the dying, Son,”

I should have said,

“Benjamin, the people are starving, how can we feed them Benjamin,”

A little over a year until he sets

firm his path,

the clarity of my error is magnified

by conversations seeded with the words ‘serving’ and ‘duty’

and while I consider these things,

I know my pacifist skin will root deep in this soil,

will wrap limbs around him, will shout

to the legions of soldier-cutter pons,

“I buffered him from the winds,

I was here for him in blight,

I watered him in drought,

you will not take him, he is too young,

his seed has not passed to the earth.”

And when they take him, I will be uprooted,

torn from the soil, dead to this earth.  They will 

cut him down with the blade of destruction,

but an edge far sharper will fell this old tree,

that of despair.



© 2011 C.T. Bailey



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Featured Review

Dear Todd,

A powerful write, my friend. We humans seem to be so good at clear-cutting. With us, nothing is thoughtful, nothing is done in moderation. We are into excess. If one tree is good, all of them is better. If one fish is good, then over fishing the oceans is better. We over pollute the skies and water. If small is good, bigger is better. We consume more and more. We take and take, and we can't slow ourselves to put back, to take less, to leave some untouched, to conserve, to be thoughtful. We spend without thought of consequence. We are a population of debtors. It is an condemnation of us as a species that we can't seem to stop ourselves about anything. We only listen if our existence is on the line. But then it can be too late.

This was a wonderful write, and your analogy was spot on. Spot on about the trees. Spot on about war. Spot on about so many aspects of the human animal. I pray we will find wisdom before it is too late.

Very best regards,

Rick

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Great writing. Nice avatar picture. Who wears a suit and tie in the cafe? Caught my eye - have a good evening!

Posted 4 Years Ago


Dear Todd,

A powerful write, my friend. We humans seem to be so good at clear-cutting. With us, nothing is thoughtful, nothing is done in moderation. We are into excess. If one tree is good, all of them is better. If one fish is good, then over fishing the oceans is better. We over pollute the skies and water. If small is good, bigger is better. We consume more and more. We take and take, and we can't slow ourselves to put back, to take less, to leave some untouched, to conserve, to be thoughtful. We spend without thought of consequence. We are a population of debtors. It is an condemnation of us as a species that we can't seem to stop ourselves about anything. We only listen if our existence is on the line. But then it can be too late.

This was a wonderful write, and your analogy was spot on. Spot on about the trees. Spot on about war. Spot on about so many aspects of the human animal. I pray we will find wisdom before it is too late.

Very best regards,

Rick

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is an incredible piece of work. I would love to hear you read it.
It has such depth and insight that I can only marvel. That we could
all be as wise as this.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Analogizing the clear-cutting of a stand of timber to the clear-cutting of a generation, both by means of mind-and-conscience-numbing toys and needless, senseless, profitless wars is a coup, Todd, a masterstroke! I should like to see this poem renamed, "Victory and Diesel", my favorite line, evoking at once the images of the sweet smell of success, and the stench generated in that victory.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I cannot wait to see you perform this!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on October 27, 2011
Last Updated on December 6, 2011
Tags: war, trees, killing, draft

Author

C.T. Bailey
C.T. Bailey

Kingsport, TN



About
C.T. Bailey has authored a number of professional articles which have been published in various industry trade publications. He is also an award-winning and published writer of poetry, prose, and fic.. more..

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