“For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft … for blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.”  – Wisdom of Solomon, 14.6

They’re at it now: hear them – sabres rattle,
And hush – the whoosh atomic – somewhere Pacific:
We humans now – are we human? – more like cattle
About to be destroyed in this lightning’s horrific.

They’re there: those Titans, those giants of old –
Strutting the world’s stage. I guess the White House,
Or North – headless they – career. How they’ve rolled,
Effortless as giants, missiles into place.

They’re poised – pitch perfect – singing as they go,
While tuneless we, wince at their insane sound.
Really, is this it? The world we love, know
About to be toast over charred, black ground?

They’re Titans, muscles like tectonic plates;
Each flex some new earthquake swallowing whole
Humanity’s high dreams, mankind’s low freight.
All lost – destruction instant, our true goal.

They’re giants certainly, and this dark wood
Appears suddenly blotting clear blue sky.
What if – for all the horror – someone could
Reverse direction, somehow get us by?

What if there were refuge, there is some raft,
And we afloat above, not water’s flood,
But fire this time – what subtlety, what craft
Could raise us, not raze us, not shed more blood?


James Sale, FRSA is a leading expert on motivation, and the creator and licensor of Motivational Maps worldwide. James has been writing poetry for over 40 years and has seven collections of poems published, including most recently, Inside the Whale, his metaphor for being in hospital and surviving cancer, which afflicted him in 2011. He can be found at www.jamessale.co.uk and contacted at james@motivational maps.com. He is the winner of First Prize in the Society’s 2017 Competition and Second Prize in the Society’s 2015 Competition.

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13 Responses

  1. Shake Spear

    The decisiveness of King Trump
    Has reversed America’ slump
    He’s roused our great guns
    Made enemies run,
    Avoided a nuclear dump!

    • James Sale

      Thanks Shake Spear – I am honoured by your presence; I thought you were dead, so it’s good to find you still alive and turning it out, man, turning it out!

  2. David Hollywood

    Evocative, frightening and mindful. I also found your poem to be very purposeful and illustrative of the moment and the prospective idiocy of gambling with eternity. History has brought us up to this moment and now we are conceited enough, through the powers that play on our behalf, to consider we and future generations do not wish for any more! Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      I believe that the true conceit lies in the fact that we are too afraid to think first about what is the right thing to do, and then about what the tribulations may be.

      • James Sale

        Thanks Anon – it is true that we all – mostly – act first and think later; indeed, some management textbooks argue for Ready-Fire-Aim rather than the more conventional wisdom of aiming first!

    • James Sale

      Thank you David – really like your reading of the poem, and you are right – it is frightening what is happening and we need to stay mindful. All the best to you.

  3. James Sale

    Thanks Green Mountain and Anon and your other various identities: I do take people’s comments seriously. I am not sure why your latest comments haven’t appeared on this website but have appeared in my Inbox. But one important you make is about the danger of theorising without experience: experience without theory seems mindless; theory without experience seems empty; thus, I conclude that as with all yin and yang we need a balance if we are to follow the Tao. But the correct balance of theory to experience is unlikely to be 50-50; different people will find different ratios acceptable, but 80/20 seems a good one. Some people can build marvellous theories on 80% of their mind, based on 20% experience; others have 80% experience and can construct a little, 20%, of theory around it. it all depends. But it is certainly true that too much experience can cloud theory – or beliefs – and lead to errors, serious errors in one’s life.

      • not a spammer

        i tend to talk with fists. so i guess that 50/50 experience and theory. one kind of blends into the next.

    • not a spammer

      but you’re a true gent. and i enjoyed reading your response. words become meaningless. so even though i misfired on my first attempt, i’m glad we still got somewhere.


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