“He Came in Peace”

The old man stopped
At the gate
Of the temple
And stared
At the modern replacement
Of its ancient entryway.

Ivy disguised
The pillars built
Not of hardwood trees
But of multi-colored
Industrial brick.

The harsh white light
Of halogen lamps
Supplanted the
Warm glow
Of handmade candles.

Smooth slabs of stone
Fresh-quarried rocks
Devoid of wear
And moss
Lined the path.

Brightly-colored characters
Etched into
High gloss posts
Perched impersonally
On corroded
Metal bases.

A sign told of the past
But neglected
To mention the present
Or acknowledge the future.

He had come in peace
To pray for peace
But left in despair
Taking his unspoken plea
With him.

(Inspired by Sandra Crook’s lovely photo, madison-woods.com, Friday Fictioneers, September 28, 2012.)

This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to “He Came in Peace”

  1. Re last stanza-Seems indicative of the pessimism of our time and the feelings are not without deniable reason.

    • vb holmes says:

      There are, indeed, a few negatives out there and the vicious campaign messages bombarding us daily aren’t helping. Look forward to your cartoons to lift my spirits.

  2. Love this. I’ve felt this way before when viewing modern replacements for old, lovely things. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy being in Wyoming in a log cabin (even though that’s not as old as this) during the summer. And there are days when I feel his despair, too.

    I look forward to getting your novel this weekend. Thanks for making it free. I wonder whether it will be on the blog I get daily with free Kindle books. I’ve send myself an email just in case it’s not.

    • vbholmes says:

      Thanks for your interest–My book may not be on any lists as I just decided to list it last night and most sites require lead time. My novel takes place during an interesting time in America’s history when the strict religious and social mores of the 18th century were being challenged (here and abroad) and radical change was taking place in all phases of life. While Reverberation, The Novel, is fiction, it was inspired by fact and these movements which did exist.

  3. Hi V.B.,
    Very observant to note the sign and light in the photo, and then center your poem around the artificiality of the temple entrance. Ron

  4. boomiebol says:

    Such wonderful use of words to evoke elements that might go unnoticed in this photo. Very nice

  5. Love that you picked up on the light and posted sign, made the beauty of this altar seem rather more man-made but a lovely story and photo. Looking forward to receiving your book this weekend thank you very much!

    • vb holmes says:

      Thanks, I agree about the photo. Sandra took a lovely shot. Thanks, too, for your interest in Reverberation–I chose to write about a less-known period in the early history of our country.

      • I have your book on Kindle hated to put it down, I am sure it is one I will read many times, you had me in your clutches from the first page. thank you for sharing your brilliant writings! God bless!

      • vb holmes says:

        Many thanks for writing such nice words about Reverberation, The Novel. As I’m sure you know, it’s a real pleasure to hear from someone who enjoyed reading your work. Again, my thanks!

  6. Carrie says:

    I really enjoyed your poem. As I looked at the image I felt it seemed horribly “modern” and unauthentic considering what it was supposed to represent. Reminds me of the aluminum Christmas trees of the 50’s- 60’s. You just can’t beat a real tree 🙂

    I’ll make note to look for your book. It sounds interesting.

  7. Sandra says:

    I think you’ve captured the essence of the real Chinese Garden of Friendship here. It was beautiful, for sure, but in an antiseptic manufactured sort of way. Very well done, a moving piece.

    • vb holmes says:

      Thanks, Sandra.! Your photograph is lovely–well-composed, great color and texture, right down to the vignette of trees and rocks framed by the open arch. Very nice.

  8. What a beautiful comparison between the old and the new..

  9. unspywriter says:

    Very lyrical, and sad, but so apt. Thank you.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/dukkha/

    • vb holmes says:

      Thanks! Enjoyed yours–dukkha and sukkha are not in my dictionary (and it’s a big one) so had to turn to the internet to get my enlightenment. I’m afraid I’d go for the sukkha as well if I hadn’t read your story.

  10. kdmccrite2 says:

    This is so well-written, and so melancholy. It coaxes the emotions. Good job.

  11. Russell says:

    I bet if you could find the tag it would read “Made in China” How ironic. Nicely done, VB.

  12. vb holmes says:

    Actually, it’s stamped “Made in America” on the bottom of the right-hand post. (Don’t I wish!)

  13. Tom Poet says:

    Enjoyed this very much…you captured the artificial look, modern feel and all the little details. Nice Job…Thanks for stopping by my page and your helpful edit. http://blog.tompoet.com/?p=470

  14. Brian Benoit says:

    A great approach, and definitely contrasts with a lot of the responses this week. A perpective on the arch / picture I hadn’t even considered before I read this.

    Mine’s over yonder: http://pinionpost.com/2012/09/28/through-the-paifang/

  15. billgncs says:

    I am always amazed at how much story can be packed into verse. This was rich indeed. I wonder if he waited long enough ( if he could ) if the patina of humanity and time would once again temper the surroundings….

  16. Another poem beautifully done.

    • vb holmes says:

      Tried to post a comment on your site, but after five go-rounds with your reality checker, I gave up. Enjoyed your post and can’t help wondering if Gerry’s on commission, and if so, how is he paid? Your story opens the door, hmmm, to several different scenarios. Nice.

  17. and took his unspoken plea with him….I so related to this line. Well written verse. Thanks for commenting on mine.

  18. susielindau says:

    So beautiful! I love the set up and how you used the descriptions to show disappointment in the replacement. I would have left too!
    Thanks for stopping by with a link! I hope you click on a few and meet some new bloggers today!

  19. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear VB,

    Time’s passage often disappoints, for the new replaces the old and the young replace us. Memory is all we have left. A lovely poem.



  20. Joyce says:

    A very good poem or story. He ‘came in peace, to pray for peace,’ and left in ‘despair’ tells of one empty, with no hope, or way to come away changed. Sad and very convincing with good descriptive words.

  21. I loved your poem – filled with images that make me want to search out a quiet spot to reflect. I also enjoyed Sandra Crook’s lovely photo.
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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