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Poetically Yours - two parts

Provided by Mike McQuillan

Welcome to Poetically Yours. I’m Yvonne Boose. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets and a few from other states. This week’s poet is Mike Mcquillan.

McQuillan is a former US Senate aide and Peace Corps Volunteer. He was honored by the Anti-Defamation League and Brooklyn Council of Churches. He also taught history and chaired the New York Police Department Training Advisory Council’s Race Subcommittee. The Write Launch has published Mike’s poetry and Creative Nonfiction.

Here’s his poem “Resurrection.” McQuillan said this poem emerged from a chance encounter one summer afternoon outside Union Station in Washington, DC. He was coming from New York. He said a lyrical male voice intrigued him as he bent over his duffle bag, looking for hotel directions. The man was addressing all or no one at once. McQuillan said the poem should speak for itself.

Part I
Do your eyes discern my halo? The world at large seems blind.

Affluent obsess on phones, poor scramble to survive.

One group calculates its commerce, one simply stays alive.

Commuters worship clocks not God. They rush to be on time,

to please the office master who pursues the bottom line.

Troubled hearts, distracted minds unite in the illusion

that virtue lies in luxury the costly and the new

but should I ask life’s purpose I'd suspect that no one knew.

I am to them unseen although faith traditions teach

That I will one day seem their peer despite who I am in fact.

I perceive as I observe them that what the masses lack is the

compassion for another, the cause that brought me back.

Their neighbors live in parks or on the streets in tents.

“We navigate around them. They don't take much space.

They don't speak so we don’t hear,” a harmony pretense.

We play lotto on the lunch breaks from our unfulfilling jobs,

honk car horns in the traffic or squeeze inside the trains to

scramble home to catch the news of problems we can't solve.

There is just so much to know in what the devil down below

concocts in the fetching stew of conspiracy and filibuster,

treason’s insurrection fueled by baseless claims of fraud.

Wrangles in the Congress, rulings of the Court,

conniving by the parties becomes the new blood sport.

Football, hoops, or hockey place your bets and don’t forget.

Vapid comedies and game shows, trite sound bites, outright lies

recycled in the morning as we brush our hair or knot a tie

as prelude to the work day that exalts no one at all.

As our capitalist economy displays its show of strength,

embody love in word and deed with patience and attention

as you head out on your mission to fulfill a human role

that transcends your occupation, sharing warmth amid the cold

of a complacent nation grown complicit in democracy’s decay.

Lift up other people as you can, fly solo when you must.

Live my Sermon on the Mount and heed the conscience call.

Be the change as Gandhi said, be whom you're meant to be,

Our sacred creed the guidance for all eternity.

Part II
An elder white-haired guy arriving at the station crouched to

shuffle fingers through his duffel’s bottled water snack or map

my soft voice seeming silent until he straightened up but then

he paused and cocked an ear as he perceived my vocal tone.

It startled him to note I stood without a friend,

no briefcase or a backpack, my hip pocket held no phone.

The Salvation Army's wardrobe put the faded jeans on me.

A checkered shirt across my chest, no designer brand to see.

Dull colors didn't faze the man. I stood erect and proud.

I spoke to all yet none till found by him alone.

Others scattered like the sparrows to do important things,

humans ever questing for the carousel's brass ring.

The ubiquity of sidewalk tents in Washington proves

the world’s richest country has gone woefully astray.

Our brothers, sisters, huddled in, with their children, too,

deserve more from us and those we put in charge who will

spend two trillion dollars modernizing nuclear missiles in

their Trident submarines. Cold hands are in your pockets,

pasted to your heart. You bought the snake oil salesmen's

lines as your country came apart. You'll cite ideals of justice

and lament the crisis if you're pressed but that is mere façade.

I'm fed up with the platitudes. Deeds matter more than words.

I sacrificed my life for you. Now the bill comes due.

That one old man approached me, perchance sensing who I am.

He stared into my eyes as I held his calloused hand and then

I heard his playful voice assert how glad he was to know me

before he framed a question fraught with import for the crowd.

As to how I felt inside since through no fault of mine I

must be invisible to others he thought should hear my call.

That could be a first stride toward redemption for them all.

God has blessed me I assured him. Please know that I'll be fine.

My companion shook my hand and hugged me. Then we both

embraced in faith that all the people may yet shed the status quo.

As what lies deep in hearts transcends what minds deny,

that if harried human beings slow their pace they'll see

there has always been enough to share, in fact enough for all.

No need for arsenals of weapons nor the bolt upon the door.

Care for and savor one another. Savor peace and friendship

in community as all start living for.



Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.