“Like a tree that’s planted by the water ....”

“On the Edge of Peace — Voices from the faith-Based Peace and Justice Community”, a new anthology from EPI is here!

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O n t h e E d g e o f P e a c e

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Fred Norman is a poet with a powerful voice, a veteran, an ardent activist for peace and social justice and frequent visitor at the Crosses of Lafayette. Here you may read his contributions to Crosses events: Norman at the Crosses

Scarr’s Run Deep –
Carolyn’s Virtual Poetry Corner

For Dr. Martin Luther King on his Birthday

"I have labored in vain
I have spent my strength
for nothing and vanity" 
Isaiah 49:4

He is dead
who led us in the ways
that make for peace ––
the turbulent roads of nonviolence.
And we would not go
not all the way;
we lost the hope that justice
could be reached by ways of peace.

Yet still he lives
in the dream rising again

 that if, like him, we will,
God works through us.

"I will give you as a light

to the nations,
that my salvation may reach

 to the ends of the earth" 
Isaiah 49:6

© Carolyn S. Scarr
January, 1987

The Strangers

No one knows why they came

to this town

in the middle of winter,

he an out-of-work builder

she large with pregnancy.

But here they are

with the clothes on their backs

two blankets

between themselves and the concrete

and the rain descending.

Here they are.

And somehow

she delivers her child

with no woman beside her

assisted by her husband only.

Here they are

the three of them

sheltered in a doorway

wrapped in their blankets

as morning comes.


Copyright © 2000, Carolyn S. Scarr

Report on INS Interview

Re: Joseph & family, application for refugee status

You say you come from Israel,

a protectorate of the Roman Empire,

here to Egypt seeking asylum.

Please state your reasons for departure.

You were warned in a dream.

Please state the specifics of the warning.

You were just warned,

by an angel,

to flee with your baby and your wife,

because Herod the king would kill your baby.

You are a village carpenter.

Why would Herod care

whether your baby lived or died?

You are a descendant of David.

How many generations ago did David live

and how many descendants of David are there now?

What other reason would Herod have

to want to kill your child?

You don't know exactly.

You were warned in a dream.

Have you had any other unusual dreams?

You were told in a dream to marry your wife.

You were engaged to be married.

Why wouldn't you marry her?

Right.  So she has dreams, too.

When exactly were you married?  Well,

let's not go into that.  Do you have any other reason

to believe yourselves in danger besides the dream?

As you were travelling here

you heard rumors of a massacre of young children

in the last town you stayed in. 

What reason do you have to believe that massacre

was aimed at you?

Why else would he kill all those babies

–– how should I know?    Everyone knows that Herod

goes in for random mass killing.

The target could be anyone.

You passed through the Sinai Desert on your way

to Egypt.  Why did you not remain there?

Why did you come here?

You say there is not much to eat in the Sinai Desert

and no work.

So you came here for a job.


Conclusion:  It is recommended that Joseph, Mary, and dependent child Jesus be classified as economic refugees.  The presence of bloodshed in the protectorate of Israel does not establish that any violence was directed at them in particular.  Furthermore both adults are subject to delusionary states of mind.  It is probable that their son will exhibit similar behavior.  It is recommended that this family be returned as soon as possible to their country of origin.

© 1994 Carolyn S. Scarr


Into a quart jar
place two cups water
taken from a ditch
beside the pasture
where the cattle once grazed.
If you do not live near a pasture
water from any drainage ditch
or from an urban creek
may be substituted.

Add one cup water
from the toilet bowl
where you rinsed the baby's diaper
when she was sick.
Be sure you do not
flush the toilet first.

Ask your husband
to urinate into the jar.
Only a little is needed.

When your neighbor washes his car
scoop up some of the run-off.
Add half a cup to the jar.

Put in a tablespoon or more
of fine dirt.
Screw down the lid.
Shake well.

Although the cholera
and typhoid bacilli
will probably be lacking –
and the amoebae –
following this recipe carefully
will result
in a reasonable facsimile
of the solution drunk
every day
by millions of people in Iraq
whose sewage treatment plants
and water purification systems
were bombed to smithereens in 1991
and cannot be rebuilt
under the conditions of siege
referred to as
and maintained by military blockade
principally by the United States of America.

You might take your jar
to your congressperson or senator.
Ask that person
to keep it on the table
where he or she sits
in the halls of Congress
until the water runs clean
from every tap in Iraq
and no baby
dies of dysentery.

This recipe can be increased
to serve 22 million people.

June 3, 2000
Carolyn S. Scarr

Inside the mask

I am, briefly, a woman of Iraq
who walks slowly
back and forth,
in her arms a baby.
Is it alive or dead?
The Iraqi woman
within the mask
cradles the baby
pats it gently
croons a song
lullaby, lament.

Inside the mask
I am, briefly,
a woman of Iraq
walking an Oakland sidewalk.
Unseasonably I sing
a carol, recalling a massacre
two thousand years old.
“For to preserve this day,
this poor youngling. . . ?”

After an hour
inside the mask
I am reluctant to emerge.
The Iraqi woman
still singing softly
walking to and fro
cradling in her arms
the baby
who might still live.

          June 8, 2000

Bread and Wine

Jesus picked up bread
place two cups water
                  the bread of every day
                  the bread of festival
Jesus picked up the bread
held it and prayed,
"Blessed are you
whose love joins into one whole
the infinite scattered loneliness of the universe.
Blessed are you
whose enormous love
breathes life into each tiny seed.
Blessed are you
who causes bread to come forth
from the earth."

Jesus broke the loaf of bread
and shared it with his friends
and shared it, too, with his betrayer.

Jesus picked up the cup
                  the cup of wine
                  the wine of celebration.
picked up the cup
held it and prayed,
"Blessed are you
whose love illumines the darkness
the tiny corners and distant reaches.
Blessed are you whose fiery love
breathes life into the twisting vine.
Blessed are you
who causes wine to come forth
from the earth."

Jesus held the cup
and shared it with his friends
and shared it, too, with his betrayer.

Whenever you eat
eat in the memory of this sharing.
Bless the bread.
Bless the wine.
Bless the earth that brings forth for all.
Bless the love that makes us one.

                                               Carolyn S. Scarr
                                               October 6, 2000


The Man in the Escher T-Shirt

The trembling hand
holds the pen
that draws the trembling hand

They crawl around his shirt
the trembling hands
each drawing the next

They box him in
drawing themselves
on his dirty white shirt

He sits on the planter's edge
white and scraggly
engulfed in self-drawing hands

His hands tremble
He tells me
My brother was killed

My brother was in Iraq
He died for his country
Hands tremble on his shirt

                                               Carolyn S. Scarr
                                               October 14, 2003

(c) 2003 Carolyn S. Scarr

Copyright © 2000, 2 by Carolyn S. Scarr, Berkeley, California, USA. Permission is granted to post this text on non-commercial internet sites, provided it remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To publish this text in printed and/or other forms please contact the author at epicalc@aol.com.