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Bird's Eye View

Look at the land below

desert, then grassland, trees

hovels and havens, spires

domes, minarets, bulldozers


Heaving and bucking, flying,

a constant whirr of flapping wings

over mountains, over cities,

over battalions, soldiers in khaki

light khaki, dark khaki, marching

towards each other


Over plains, under oaks, building

then burning, building again,

a constant changing panorama

of green and blood, heaving and

bucking, clash of swords, whine

of bullets, green trees uprooted

turned into battering rams


They’ve fastened a camera onto

the back of history, look how

the map changes as we flap higher

we’re flying over Rome, Carthage,

look here are the Crusaders, here’s

Napoleon, Alexander, Barbarians

here’s Jerusalem ransacked and

rebuilt, changing hands again as

we watch, stones cry and tumble


Fatigued now, a resting place

comes into view, a lake between

the hills, here birds of History come

to roost, millions on millions, pecking

and drinking, old and young, ordinary

people dressed as flamingoes, storks,

swallows, here a child playing, there

a woman preparing the evening meal


But there is danger in the bush, a lion

growls, hyenas stalk behind them and

overhead vultures, helicopters, float in

on the evening breeze, watching, waiting

hungry as a beast pounces on a struggling

victim – he’s holding a book of prayer

intoning a ritual as the beast rips his

body, now the hyenas drive up, vultures

squat and hop, armored vehicles with

curved beaks


The land disappears in a bath of red, of

pecking and clawing, only the map of its

bones remains subsiding in the desert

beside a dune that once was a lake that

once was a place where dinosaurs roamed

seeking to assuage their voracious appetite


Now the camera attached to a bird’s back

captures the flapping fragments of a

tapestry, blood, fire and rebirth that isn’t

history at all, but merely a collection of

blurred images, edited by interpreters

each with his own agenda, writing and

rewriting until all that remains are ancient

riddles and the bones of a billion victims

whitening deep under the sands

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© Johnmichael Simon



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