Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Angele Ellis: On Hearing That FBI Anti-Terrorism Agents Spied on the Thomas Merton Center

For Molly Moore Rush

Pacifism is dangerous.

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk

who rose above his Seven-Storey Mountain

to the Buddhist peaks of Nepal,

was electrocuted by a faulty fan

while visiting the Dalai Lama.

In his first and last filmed talk, he said:

Now I will disappear for a while,

and we can all go get a Coke or something.

And he did—yet reappears

when anyone relives his revelation

at Louisville’s 4th and Walnut:

I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts…

If only we could see each other that way

all the time. There would be no more war…

Beauty the secret missed by surveillance,

blacked out like lines in a classified file.

Unseen in those opposed to the U.S. war in Iraq

left-wing…advocating…many political causes

appear[ing] to be of Middle Eastern descent.

The war against terrorism makes the world blind

to Merton’s radical belief that if we truly saw

we might fall down and worship each other.

Now freedom will disappear for a while,

and we can all go get a Coke or something

From Arab on Radar (Six Gallery Press). Copyright 2008 Angele Ellis.

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