Underground Beloved


It’s possible of course to fall in love each morning
with every living being on the train.
Buried as one in the subway tomb
we arise with our original face.
Witness the teenage parents with their son
whose oceanic baby‐gaze
cajoles strangers from their cocoons.
Or the moment we rise to cross the Charles
with its tall ships, canoes, skyscrapers and steeples,
and the deep heartbreaking blue.

Witness the Vietnam vet who declares “Freedom’s not free.
Just ask Dr. King and John Kennedy.”
A master of funk, he sings “Papa was a Rolling Stone,”
its bass line lifting a sullen morning to new heights
of sweetness until a giant Deadhead, who could be Jesus,
if Jesus were a football player, joins him in speaking
of tenderness.

There are many faces of loneliness,
dark eyes fixed inward on the burden of day,
or lost in the electric maze of the phone.

Oh beloveds, can you not see that you shine like glory?
You lovers from Pakistan, young people in your business suits,
the old Russian woman clutching her prayer beads
so old she’s barely there. Beloveds, behold
the burgundy lips of Western Europe, whose quiet eyes
might truly launch a thousand ships. Beloveds, radiant:
underground Rastaman wielding your cane,
trickster or shaman. “Put ’em up,” you say,
“You’re all under arrest.”
Beloveds, arise, awake!

-for Gregory Orr

Alexander Levering Kern lives in Somerville, Mass.

Posted in: January 2016: Quakers and the Political Process, Poetry

, , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Sign up for Friends Journal's weekly e-newsletter. Quaker stories, inspiration, and news emailed every Monday.

ATTENTION: The website will be undergoing maintenance between June 3 and June 20, 2020. Comments made during this period may get inadvertently deleted. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Web comments may be used in the Forum column of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.