Mount Sinai

The gray smoke diction
of a fired gun.
A lifetime’s sentences
end in spattered points
of blood
then trailing exclamations
and question marks.

A single bullet
contains countless vagaries
of deflection, distortion
and fragmentation.

It thunders once from its cloud
and writes a soul
in shorthand on a stone
for readers to interpret
as best they will
the words of any god.

Posted for dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night #45.

27 thoughts on “Mount Sinai

  1. and writes a soul
    in shorthand on a stone

    to me, that is the smoking gun of poetry…

    my favorite poems are those left so open to interpretation, requiring the reader to fill in their own blanks and create what it means for them. this is a perfect example of that.

  2. It thunders once from its cloud
    and writes a soul
    in shorthand on a stone
    for readers to interpret
    as best they will
    the words of any god.

    And so it goes–for me, the piece speaks to the costs involved in exercising free will–I am not at all sure that it what you intended–but that is where I went–great write!

  3. That first stanza speaks of suicide to me, but probably b/c I had a friend shoot herself several years back.

  4. Love that first line, and the piece as a whole is very crisp and poignant, pointing vividly at the preciousness of life, and how easily it can be snuffed… nice job Matt…

    Image & Verse
    my poem: Laughing

  5. “for readers to interpret
    as best they will
    the words of any god”
    Hm. Well, I’m attempting to interpret the words you wrote here… 😉
    The extended metaphor here really works for me. A well chosen metaphor; can really picture those spattered punctuation marks all over the wall, and the questions and exclamations of the life that has been brought to a full stop. The survivors and investigators are left to interpret as they will, who that soul really was, and to interpret the meaning of it all, or lack of, according to their assorted faiths or not-faiths. At least, that’s how I see it. Could be totally off the mark.

  6. Wow, you carried the theme beautifully through this whole piece with power and panache, Matt. The final stanza reminds me of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a graveyard in his Devil’s Dictionary…something to the effect of a place where poets write at a target.

    Great piece! ~ j

  7. Well, it may be my atheist bone talking, but I see this as an analogy for religion gone wrong, and the conflict it often causes, the “countless vagaries/of deflection, distortion/and fragmentation….” that result from making faith into a single bullet.

    The Moses parallel is very adroit, Matt, regardless of whether my reading is off or not, and writing it open ended as you did is difficult with something universally known and specific like that–of course, you handled this with all your usual aplomb. ;_) Liked it much.

  8. I agree with Brian – it is up to our interpretations and you have given us plenty to think about – especially a bullet which

    writes a soul
    in shorthand on a stone

    In the end we shall all be reduced to a few stories and shorthand on a stone

  9. This is superb– and so many meanings can be wraught from this. I can see how death (from a bullet) reduces one’s life to words on a stone.
    I can also see the effect of words on a life.
    Excellent write!

  10. Thanks for all the comments. I think Chris came closest to what was in my brain when I was writing this, but I had an added dash of religious cynicism. Everything everyone said is a valid way of looking at the poem.

  11. There’s a deep theological sense to this one… I like the comparison of life to sentences in the first stanza: “trailing exclamations and question marks.” Nice touch.

  12. very powerful indeed…the smoking gun and the bullet etching the our end dates- and better than any other known God. I interpreted this in a number of wasy- as the bullet being fate (not god)…and literally- as the guns/bullets/machines of war being worshipped and more powerful than any other God. Very well written indeed- it just FLOWED…i read it out loud and it just grew legs and ran…great poem

  13. Wow…so powerful, and it hit me so deeply. I appreciated every image and found meaning in it. (Glad to have found your blog again…I lost the link somehow for a few days.)

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