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This poem is taken from PN Review 167, Volume 32 Number 3, January - February 2006.

Misericords for Ninevah Mike Freeman


Jonah was sent to preach in Ninevah which fell in 621 BC (see The Book of Jonah ). In 2005 AD Ninevah Province's capital is Mosul (see news, daily).



Headless creatures, faces in their chests,
Guard this frontier where Caleb and Joshua
Fresh in from Canaan have their luggage checked:
Fruits of Israeli espionage, the new grape stock.

This galloping horse, head of a man, hands
For forelegs is - for later scholarly bookies -
Aristotle, Henry III, mad Nebuchadnezzar,
Or the ordinary locust. Place your bets.

The two boat-builders chisel and chat with
All the time in the world, shaded
By their own work from the side-show
Where the animals gather and the waters rise.

Judgement comes by the wheelbarrow. A fox
Steers monks into the mouth of hell. Monkeys
Wheel priests there by the barrow-load. Nuns
...


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