Arise, You Bones

“Come, spirit, from the four winds, and blow upon these slain, and let them live again.”

Ezechiel 37:9

Arise, you bones of millions, scattered far,
Half-buried, all forgotten, that remain
From the red dragon and its blood-stained star,
That crushed near half the world beneath its reign,
Raged, overthrew, and waged eternal war
On truth and light, the decent and the sane –

You bones of martyrs slain for faith confessed;
Of kings and princes slaughtered for your birth;
Of peasants starved as theory put to test;
Of myriad young, old, women, men, your worth
Naught but what blood and toil brute force could wrest,
Like cattle herded, like chaff dumped in earth.

Arise from every gulag-dotted land:
From windswept Arctic tundra, Yakut woods,
Wide Kazakh steppes, and searing Turkmen sand;
From blood-soaked rice-fields where the Yangtze floods
And where the spires of glorious Angkor stand;
From mine-sown jungles where war’s shade yet broods.

Arise! Assemble, joint connecting joint
Into a deathless host of millions strong;
Surge forth in righteous wrath; seize sword, spear-point;
Mow down the dragon, reigning still so long,
The mobs it spawned, the lords it dared anoint;
Avenge at last your unrequited wrong!

Charge through the ivied academic halls
Where yet the dragon spins its fantasies;
Charge through the presses, studios, and malls,
Where yet its tongue spews countless lies with ease;
Charge through the domes of scattered capitals
Where yet its greedy talons crush and seize.

Avenge your blood, your chains, your stifled souls,
And make an unmoved world at last atone.
Your cause is just; its hour of vengeance tolls.
You had no Nuremberg, now make your own.
No army freed you; form a tide that rolls
Worldwide and crashes on foes overthrown.

 

To Xi

Do you not hear them, Chairman Xi?
Victims tied for the surgeon’s blade,
Their final shrieks of agony,
Their hearts carved out and iced for trade?
Hear them, hear them, Chairman Xi!

Do you not see them, Chairman Xi?
Dismembered limbs torn from the womb,
The wailing mothers, forced to see
Their womanhood become a tomb?
See them, see them, Chairman Xi!

Do you not know them, Chairman Xi?
The prisons full of those who gazed
Past Marx and Mao to deity,
Their altars smashed, their temples razed?
Know them, know them, Chairman Xi!

Do you not fear them, Chairman Xi?
The distant quakes from Tiananmen –
A people crushed, whose dignity
Demands its greatness rise again?
Fear them, fear them, Chairman Xi!

 

Adam Sedia (b. 1984) lives in his native Northwest Indiana, where he practices law as a civil and appellate litigator. His poems have appeared in Indiana Voice Journal and Tulip Tree Review. He has also had short stories and works of legal scholarship published in various journals. He also composes music, which may be heard on his YouTube channel.


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15 Responses

  1. incongnito

    years back i a submitted a poem i had worked on for a year to meet the deadline and requirements for a contest. i manged to express everything i felt requisite. it was structured and rhyming but “heavy”. in other words, it did not have a classical air. this does. it’s night and day. really, terrific. outstanding!

    Reply
  2. Amy Foreman

    Powerful and moving battle cries, Adam. These start the new year off right. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. james sale

    There have been some poems of extremely high quality on the pages of SCP recently, but this ranks amongst the very best of them – an astonishingly powerful piece of work. Rhetorical, but without seeming forced; structured, but without seeming artificial; repetitive, but without being boring. A tour de force in fact. Adam Sedia is a wonderfully accomplished young poet and I look forward to seeing a lot more of his work.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I agree, James. Both poems were very strong, with nary a stumble throughout. Each line exemplified masterful concinnity, and dovetailed nicely with its cohorts to create well-formed stanzas.

      Reply
    • Adam Sedia

      Thank you very much! I am honored and humbled to have such a reader give such a review.

      Reply
  4. David Watt

    Adam, these are both powerful pieces. A strength of conviction shines through, and the concluding lines place the icing on the cake.

    Reply
  5. Caroline Bardwell

    Thank you Adam! Great work. I also wrote a sonnet about Ezekiel’s vision that I will share with you (published in 2018 by Barren Magazine). Hopefully you appreciate the inspiration.

    Valley of Bones

    Through stacks of bones his eyes did wade,
    a sea of broken bodies piled.
    Ezekiel breathed and flesh was made
    and soon the place was running wild.
    New lives restored despite the odds
    against the man’s prophetic gift.
    The Holy Spirit boldly prods
    his lungs to wake the dead adrift.
    Their spirits rise to joyous height
    to know their death yet be made whole;
    a chance to win a winless fight,
    reclaiming for themselves their soul.
    The Valley’s tears no longer pull
    toward every limb and rib and skull.

    Reply
  6. Martin Rizley

    Powerful poems of protest against man´s cruelty to man and the inhumanity of totalitarian regimes like that in Communist China. I wish that the poem to Chairman Xi could be sent to him directly!

    Reply
    • Charles Southerland

      Dear Mr. Sedia,

      You deserved to win the contest with your excellent poems. Congratulations.

      Reply
  7. Sally Cook

    Dear Mr. Sedia —

    Congratulations on winning top prize! Your sense of aptness, lack of extraneous material and graceful rhyme all combine to make readable work – in short, your work is excellent, and I look forward to seeing much more of it on this site and in other places

    Reply
  8. John Gao

    I absolutely adored this! It’s a shame that we may never live to see that day come, barring the advent of a Venezuela-style collapse. Congratulations on your award!

    Reply
  9. The Society

    An official statement form the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation:

    Congratulations, Mr. Sedia, on your fine poems, and congratulations to The Society of Classical Poets for your worthy choice. “Arise, You Bones” and “To Xi” lit a thousand small fires in my mind. They are Psalm-like. Their words carry the weight that ten-times their number would in prose. How staunchly in contrast these poems are to Neruda’s disgusting homages to Stalin. Does Sedia know the haunting photo of Osip Mandelstam taken after his arrest? “Only in Russia is poetry respected,” said Mandelstam, “It gets people killed.”

    Bookshop owners in Hong Kong who sold books with content along the lines of Mr. Sedia’s have been, for the past decade or so, “disappeared” to the mainland. It is a horrible fate to be “disappeared” by the Chinese Communist Party. That is why, as I write, there are more than a million Hongkongers in the streets of their city protesting the Beijing-back extradition law that would allow the Party of Xi Jinping to extradite and prosecute any citizen of Hong Kong who dissents. This is an outrage. But also, a matter of life and death, as Mandelstam knew. Xi Jinping is as willing to kill poets as Joseph Stalin, just ask the widow of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

    These poems are not doom or gloom. These poems have a healthy spirit of defiance coupled with hope for the redemption of those whose lives were wrecked by adherents of communist ideology. Mr. Sedia’s appeal for justice doesn’t leave out a guilty party from Xi Jinping to no-name professors. Mr. Sedia’s forms gird these poems with structure and musicality. I applaud Mr. Sedia and The Society of Classical Poets. Well done and keep on.

    Davey Talbot
    Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
    June 12, 2019

    Reply

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