By Joseph Charles MacKenzie On the massacre of sixteen children and their teacher at the Dunblane Primary School near Stirling, Scotland, March 13, 1996 LOVE’s light lost the bleak night breathes a black breeze of loss. The dread dawn dons dusk’s vale. “Is death dead?” the bells Ask across the mourning morn’s moors. The sound swells, Proclaiming Mary’s anguish at the Child-God’s cross. My horror walks in hermit’s weeds where children skipped, My skull’s sick sky sinks shaken shocked beyond the leaves Light lilting leaward as my grieving silence weaves A wreath of white where once a tortured heaven wept. Your quiet walls and choir stalls fall muffled muted, As all around resound your bells whose concerts call Only the broken to an altered altar’s gall, Their proud pearl peels by palsied pain’s pall diluted. A cold enfolding sigh of waning winter’s white Wails a winding-sheet of wind over the wide waste. With ice-frosted moss the old year’s grey gown is laced And spring entombed awaits the blooming of the light. Come, pure hands, come, sinless hands, gather the good birth Of glad glowing firstlings to the day’s faultless flock, And come, guiltless Heart, guide us to your sacred rock Whence your bright beam’s gleam breaks across the planet’s girth! For the mid-March musings of the marsh marges melt The slow-flowing Allan. The swift-sweeping swallow Swerves now, now swoops, swinging above my dark fallow Dreams. O singing ark of endlessness where once dwelt The children. O green grace wrapped in the bud’s tight fold! O writhing world, how my woe-weary Virgin grieves! O red wreath of wrath wrought of thorns and new-born leaves! O Shepherd’s warm wounds wrung on gleaming glens of gold! Mothers and midwives of Levi, the Nile floods fill With your tears. For, your fair rows of white roses The Pharaoh’s anger drowns in brown streams, while Moses Wends his sweet wean’s way by the Weaver’s hand and will. And Rachel’s vain veiled voice from Ramah’s ramparts cries To Bethlehem, as the sword’s fierce fire falls like rain On milk-fed flesh of silk. Though Herods reign, My Savior roves through red ravines and ravaged skies, Fleeing into Egypt. Though the slayers of stars Slithering slink like slick serpents through the slow slime Of senselessness; though smiling America’s grime Smudges our song with its grim grisly sludge and scars The infinite in man; though beauty’s butchers crown Their barren brows with manufactured tinsel-boughs, While a stark starving world in prostrate bondage bows Before the lords of emptiness and false renown; Though swine-faced fakes swindle faith from feigned pulpit-chairs, Parading chained Eternity on auction-blocks, While private spite behind a seraph’s mask mocks The souls it splits and spits upon with pious airs; Though trite trivial trifles triumph over truth And artists assist assassins of the sublime; Though we are slapped and slashed and sliced and slugged while Time Lies blank and bleeding in the gardens of our youth, Yet, we are returning forever, with arms full Of everyday flowers waving the old ways home. We run beneath our secret suns, but never roam Too far from the folds of familiar wool. From Bute’s mute stones He shall run with us again, O partisans of miracles! Our crossed kites rise Wafted on west wind’s wings, beyond auld Scotland’s skies Wondering on a child revived by gentle Blane. …And I hear their green music through the tortured leaves. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei genetrix, Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei genetrix. ...And I hear their green music through the tortured leaves. Joseph Charles MacKenzie is the first and last American to win First Place in the Long Poem Section of the Scottish International Poetry Competition, Henry M. Austin Poetry Prize.