at the destruction of the body

Ian Van Heusen

at the destruction of the body
at the deconstruction of the temple
at the decoration of futility
& the stripping bare of Zion

let me embrace a lament
let me make the acquaintance of sorrow

my hands had been set
to the weaving of bridges
amongst brothers
a binding of common interests

in other words, my hands were set to molding peace
from the clay of confusion & disorder

	but you broke my fingers
	& you severed the threads of my tapestry
	now, my intentions lie before me, naked

& my tongue had been trained
	to the sounds of crickets
	in my throat, Robins & a nest
	for families to build songs
	but you crushed my voice
	& flooded my mouth with tears
	gave me stones to eat
	& thus crushed my teeth
	now, the only sound I can make is prayer

& my feet were content learning the trade of distance
	the work of carrying
	the craft of moving
	& in their motion
	a faith in bringing the word peace to a world more prone
	to exchange blows
	than language

	so why has your will become shards of glass
	to the soft soles of my intentions?

Uninspired, I stand
but one body amongst many
& that many stands the same
without prophet to part the waters
we seem to be drowning in the imagination
of pleasure
in other words, corruption prospers in its own design
while your faithful languish in a desert of waiting

all of my plans have turned into smoke
& where there is smoke
there is the reality
that something has been exchanged with absence
& that something has been deposited within the vaults of nothing

but in your memory
in your remembering is a Shepherd’s staff
thus we are gathered
brought to bread, our daily pasture
& in your presence are fields
to our hunger

Oh Lord remember water & sunshine
and how with these you had brewed life for us
like wine
	How in those days, we walk inebriated with joy!
		Let me see green!

		for the only thing before my eyes is charcoal, gray
	ashes breeding ashes
	deadness multiplying like gnats on the rotten flesh
	of my comfort
	& in my ears a symphony of injustice
	has broken the harp of worship
	like a child cut short by an indifference to need
	so have you aborted your people’s joy,

	our one companion is darkness.

	& Glory to the Father who reigns even amongst the opaque depravation
		of my intentions’ Sheol
	& to the Son who wears my shadows as a crown
	& to the Holy Spirit, kissing the abyss of my lament with fire,
transforming my tears into a sweet incense.
	As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.


Ian Van Heusen currently resides in Fayetteville, North Carolina where he teaches Math, English, and Religion at St. Patrick’s School. He attended University at Albany, NY and Fayetteville State University graduating from the former with an English degree. His first chapbook, “Midnight,” was published by Foothills Publishing (, and he is currently working on his second chapbook, “Sanctus.” He plans on independently releasing it in Summer 2008.