Bells and Howitzers

As the church bells

Toll the hour in Switzerland,

The village fountains

Flow their way.

Every hour on the hour

Signaling the start and end of day

And if you cannot hear

It rings again five minutes after

More insistently.

But the village fountains

Just go on and flow their way,


Towards August's end

The waters of Switzerland

Overflowed on Bern and Lucerne

Taking dozens to their death.

But the bells of Celigny

And Lavigny continued tolling

And the village fountains

Kept on flowing.

By September, some days after,

It was New Orleans.

A hurricane had struck her.

How many thousands died

In that disaster.

The bells of Celigny and Lavigny

Have kept on tolling,

The fountains still are flowing.

In Europe and America

Calamities are unusual.

In the Philippines,

We await our next.

Will it be

Political this time, we wonder.

Or shall an act of God

Finally stop her.

In Celigny and Lavigny

The bells keep tolling,

The fountains flowing.

But in the rest of the world

Both men and women

Have been sowing.


September 4, 2005

6:05-7:10 pm


Nota Bene

This poem is part of a collection of nine inspired by the Chateau de Lavigny--not quite a castle, but a very big house on a hill in Switzerland.  The place serves as a residency for poets and novelists from all over the world.  I stayed there from August 22 to September 12, 2005.




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