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Five Senses of the End Time

by Daniel Berrigan

When I look back I see
I’ve spent my life seeing—
under that flat stone—what?
why that star off kilter?

Turn turn, I intoned, and
out of the stone there stood
What-Not in a white garment.

Jacob’s ladder descended
(the angels holding steady)

I mounted and I
saw what

What then did you hear?
(a rabbi intoned on the way)
‘Death knell, birth cry, both
wrung from throat.’

Taste was gruesome and sweet.
First, a prison privy.

They pushed your face down
in the common woe of war,
the shit of conquering heroes.

But then in a desert place
honey from a lion’s jaw!
I tasted at long last


In no time at all
death, and you’re compounded
princeling or jackanapes
with common carrion stench.

Which isn’t the point I believe.

I carry in memory
like a bride her bridal flower
in two tremulous hands—
odor of wild roses
wet with Block Island fog.

It was touch and go all the way.
I saw along the way
blur of blood, then closer
a wounded wayfarer
hands, feet, heart’s pocket
rent savagely.
Touch! he cried, and live!
Mirror mirror—
him I saw, myself
rent. And in went.


Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit priest and author of more than fifty books of poetry and prose, has been deeply involved in the peace movement worldwide. Through his teaching, preaching, writing, and personal example, he has mentored three generations of women and men committed to peace and justice. (2000)


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