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Scrap Paper Review
Issue #46
Millennial Meanderings
December, 1999

1999 A.D. Sullivan
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End of the Millennium 
The little and great disappointments 
It's all over 
It can happen anywhere? 
Moments before the Millennium 
SPR interviews God 
When time stops 

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End of the Millennium

It's the end of the world
I heard someone say,
but it doesn't really matter
there's no one left to save,
just the field mice in their holes
and the rats upon the shelves
and the merry little fishes
that feed upon the kelp.

Yes, the world is at end
says the Devil with delight,
as he waves good-bye to sunset
and flourishes in the night,
how the night time goes so slowly,
like a slow-motion evening train
or the lovers upon their pillows
thrusting softly to ease their pain.

Now, mothers eat their babies
and lick their fingers when they're done
cast their troubles to the darkness
and their curses to the sun,
and they think it'll end tomorrow
when the sun begins to rise
but they'll wake to the same old misery
won't that be a rude surprise?

And the children are dripping moonshine
from the corners of their eyes
and drag lizard tails behind them
to swat away the flies
and the days will lose their number
as history fades away
leaving pictures of our banishment
and shadows to which to pray.

Table of Contents* * *

The little and great disappointments

Unlike claims of many Christian fundamentalists, end of the millennium prophecies dictating the end of the world did not originate with the writing of the Bible. In fact, the whole concept that Christian Rapture -- described by the faithful as an answer to the rest of our wicked pleasures -- is barely 150 years old; a concept developed not by the great 19th Century Christian thinkers, but by a madman named Miller. In fact, Miller and his followers are solely responsible for turning the good, helpful and Humane fundamental Christians of that time into the greedy, self-centered, heartless variety we have today, twisting interpretation of Scripture so as to benefit themselves. Throughout history, Bible interpretation among the fundamentalists had always been something of an "iffy" thing, often as much a product of a particular time with its associated social conditions as anything actually meant by the creators of the Bible.

Nothing shows this sense of change in interpretation than the book of Revelations, that section of the Bible from which the doomsayers draw most of their evidence for predicting our demise at the millennium's end.

The contemporary "fire and brimstone" interpretation of Revelations did not arise until a mid-19th century cultist named William Miller introduced what he and his Adventist followers invented what scholars now clad the "Post Millennium" point of view.

Before Miller, Christians believed that Christ would return to the earth, but that human beings had to scrub the place free of sin and poverty. While the modern Fundamentalist boasts that all he has to do is believe in Christ and Christ will do the rest, those Christians that came before Miller believed that they needed to make the Earth an acceptable place for Christ to inhabit, thus they worked hard to cure poverty, ease suffering, treat the afflicted.

Yet as the Robber Barons and other flagrant capitalists began to reshape the economic structure of America, making it a less kind and gentler place in which to be poor or black or illegal alien, the faith went through a similar transformation, taking on the same greedy values professed by the bastards of world industry.

As the great empires of business reached out their dirty fingers to grasp raw materials from around the world, their counter part in the Christian faith reached into the heart of fundamental belief and twisted into something dark and ugly, turning the mindset towards what scholars have since called the "Pre-Millennium" philosophy.

What resulted was the lazy Christian's approach to world salvation, leaving everything in the hands of Christ. Instead of Christians working to make the world a better place, they tossed up their hands claiming their efforts would be wasted on souls like ours, and condemned us to Christ's wrath if we did not swear allegiance to their version of God. Thus, these Christians believed that Christ would descend upon the earth, destroying all that is evil, then build His new kingdom upon its ruins. In this version, Christians would be freed of any responsibility beyond their own material needs, would not have to care for the poor, or heal the ill, these Christian would only have to profess their faith to become one of the elite.

This was Miller's grand contribution to the Christian world, even though he was considered little better than a cult leader when he first introduced this concept, and the modern day survivors of his cult have had a monumental impact on Fundamental theory, in which a literal translation of the Bible has become fashionable, when it was rarely literally translated prior to Miller's uprising.

Today, the Seventh Day Adventist Church -- one of the corner stones of modern fundamentalism in America -- traces its roots directly to Miller, as does The Church of God, and the Advent Christian Church, although anyone who professes to be "born again" in our life time, has been afflicted by Miller's doctrine.

Few of our generation, however, truly understand what this connection means, or the historic background out of which these new interpretations of the Bible emerge.

Miller was a New England farmer, who suddenly emerged as the leader of a cult, although some historians claim his sole interest in establishing his church was to make money -- just one more soapbox preacher making predictions about the end of the world in order to get guilt-ridden locals to fork over their hard-earned cash.

Miller, who claimed to have done an extensive search of the Bible's books of Daniel and Revelation, even put an exact date to his prediction, and convinced the New York Herald to print his prediction, adding thousands to the number of fools who actually took him seriously. So in the days before April 3, 1843, Miller's crew raked through the crowds, convincing them that the dead go to Heaven more quickly than the living. Hundreds committed suicide, killing their families first, dressing up in special ascension robes Miller's crew sold on the side.

When the world did not end of April 3, as he foretold, Miller claimed he had miscalculated and pushed the date up to July 7, and again sold more robes and convinced more fools to end their lives early in anticipation of a quick trip to St. Peter's gate.

Then, again, when the world did not end, he restudied his Scripture and recalculated the numbers, claiming that he had been a year off in his prediction, asking those who had survived the first two attempts to regather on the same hill on March 21, 1844. Miller's men sold more robes, yet still failed to bring about the desired end. So again, he pushed the date up, telling the disappointed but still enraptured crowds that the positive end of the world would come on Oct. 22, 1844. So convincing was his speech on this occasion that people again returned, again purchased more robes, and again looked skyward for the end to come. One farmer on this occasion actually dressed his cows up in the prescribed ascension robes.

When the end did not come, the crowd did not lynch Miller, they simple dispersed. The Seventh Day Adventist Church calls these failures "The Disappointments." Miller, being much more world wise, would have called it "good business," though it might be wise for those anticipating the return of Christ with the end of the Millennium to purchase a robe -- just in case.

Table of Contents* * *

It's all over
Why worry, the world has ended before

For those truly concerned about the change of the Millennium, the past does present some solid evidence of how well people have handled situations of this kind.

We are not the first generation to believe that Christ will be returning as the odd numbers roll over into zeros in the next few weeks. On Dec. 31, 999 A.D. thousands of people climbed Mt. Zion in anticipation of the return of Christ. These people swarmed there from all over Europe, from lowly peasants to mighty kings, from merchants to soldiers, all absolutely convinced the world would end on Jan. 1, 1000. When it didn't, they swarmed back to the places from which they'd come.

Slightly over 500 years later, in 1524, the wiser people of London, England, fled their homes in the tens of thousands after local astrologers predicted floods would drown London -- this despite the fact that the Bible clearly stated the world would not end again as the result of such a catastrophe. When the predicted event failed to take place, the astrologers humbly claimed they had miscalculated. Less than a month later, German astrologer Johann Stoeffler predicted the same fate for the whole world.

A little over two hundred years later on April 5, 1761 -- After two earthquakes rocked London in one month, a solider, William Bell predicted the End of the World for one month later. No wiser from their last experience with hoaxes of this kind, thousands fled their homes. When nothing happened, Bell was sent to a nut house.

Documented predictions for the end of the world go way back, but one of the odder predictions claimed the world would end in 1881. Mother Shipton, in the 16th Century in verse saying: "The world to an end shall come, in eighteen hundred and eighty one." Experts, who are said to have come up with their own prediction by measuring the Great Pyramid of Cheops, came to the same conclusion, going so far to say that "definitely, without a doubt, the world will end in 1881".

A young lady named Margaret Rowan foresaw that in 1908, a man named Robert Reid would lead hundreds of people to a hell top in California. When nothing happened, Reid said the photographer's flash bulbs prevented the end from occurring on time -- a real Kodak moment.

In 1931, the Dallas-based Prophetical Society said the end had come that very year, but most people had missed it; while students of the Pyramidologists, who had gotten the 1881 end of the world wrong, predicted the end of the world would come in 1936. Poof, and it would be gone. When that didn't happen, they said 1953. No joking this time.

In June, 1954, four hundred years after astrologers predicted floods would drown London, a well-known English lecturer, Hector Cox, while in London, predicted the end of the world. Twenty four hours later, he was found stabbed to death.

Four years later, after getting a vision from his dead sister, a man name Elio Bianco, claimed the world would end at 1:45 p.m. from an accidental thermo-nuclear explosion (specifically a secret E Weapon developed by the United States). Harkening back to his Biblical text (slightly confused about the report of London Floods, Bianco along with about 40 followers built an ark and prepared for the end. A few hours after making his prediction public, the police arrested him on charges of inciting riot.

One event that certainly concerned people came in 1962 when eight planets of the solar system were aligned. This meant the planets lined up in a straight line on one side of the sun, a certain sign the world would end. Scientists assured the public that only seven had actually aligned, and the world breathed a little easier, until 1983, when all eight did align, leaving the world in pretty much the same mess as before the alignment.

Of course, Ronald Reagan, the authority on the subject of world ending occurrences, did his share to keep people calm about the potential for a millennial catastrophe. From 1967 when he was governor, to 1985 when he was president, he announced at least 11 times publicly that he believed Christ would come within our lifetime. When confronted by news people from the national television media, Reagan claimed predicting the end of the world was a hobby of his.

Table of Contents* * *

It can happen anywhere?
Book tells of woman's rescue from Bergen County cult

When Elizabeth R. Burchard, then a freshman at Swarthmore College, in 1977 visited a biofeedback clinic in New York City, she and her mother were looking to reduce stress. Burchard never imagined that over the next few years she would find herself as a member of a cult. In fact, as a young girl, she had scoffed at the idea, wondering how people could be so gullible as to fall into such a circumstance.

"One of the technicians on the staff would come in after our sessions and talk about his theories," she said.

These theories included visions of a magnificent future; about the power a few special people could obtain through their collective efforts.

So powerful was his personal ability, that Burchard soon fell under his spell, and followed him even after the clinic discovered his extracurricular activity and fired him.

"I was starving for love and looking for significance. I was needy, and looking for a sense of direction. He promised to give me that," she said. "While I felt a conflict with the man from the first day, it was my heart verse my thinking. He controlled my thinking."

In Torn From The Arms Of Satan, a book published by Ace Academic Inc., Burchard and Judith L. Carlone tell the "true story of seduction and escape from a contemporary New Age Cult."

Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, Burchard found herself trapped into a web of activities she never before contemplated a journey into the twisted mind of a cult leader who promised them greatness as he twisted what he called "The Group" to his will.

Burchard and Carlone have changed the names of people and places because the cult still operates in Bergen County, and though engaged in a series of small crimes, is largely protected from prosecution.

"What they are doing is technically legal," Burchard said. "I went to one or two lawyers who deal with cults."

While the cult had sexual interludes, these are not done with minors, thus do not violate existing laws and arrests for shoplifting by some of its members has not attracted the attention of the authorities.

As with many such cults, The Group prepares for Armageddon, but at a significant cost to its members; and in particular Burchard, who claimed be ailing from malnutrition and a general sense of despair.

A stranger to the rescue
Under the guidance of this cult leader, Burchard was encouraged to join Ross Perot's "United We Stand America" party in 1993, a move designed to bring the cult into the political world, and resulted in a visit from then gubernatorial contenders Christie Whitman and Jim Florio.

"(The cult leader) believed that he had special powers, that if he could touch someone, put his arms around that person, he could control and influence them from a distance," Burchard said.

Although The Group was later asked to leave the party, Carlone -- also a member -- saw Burchard and sensed some great wrongness connected with the woman.

"She had a spark in her eyes, aliveness, feel good, beginning how I felt about her so powerful, like an attraction. I didn't even analyze it."

Even now, neither woman can explain what brought them together or what made one woman seek to save the other, saying they came from far different backgrounds. Burchard was born and raised on Park Avenue in Manhattan, the daughter of a professor, while Carlone grew up at Sixth and Clinton Streets in Hoboken, the daughter of a truck driver.

"I don't know why she came to help me, she wasn't part of my family. She wasn't my best friend, co-worker or lover. She had no reason," Burchard said.

Carlone said it was simply human compassion.

"When I met Elizabeth, I felt her persecution," Carlone said. "I saw a spiritual crime being committed, even though I didn't know the specifics of the crime. She looked lost, lonely, scared and suffocated. She looked like a zombie."

At this point Carlone decided to rescue Burchard, although didn't know how at the time, even going as far as to pretend an interest in The Group in order to uncover what she saw as its evil intentions.

"I would go to the meetings, listen to what was said, and then point out the contradictions to Elizabeth," Carlone said. "She would go back and wait for an opportunity for the subject to come up again and confront him."

Burchard was eventually thrown out of the group.

"When he threw me out, I felt a huge hole in my life," Burchard said. "I was afraid and on the verge of nervous breakdown. I clung to my two businesses, my photography studio and my flash cards, to help me through each day. I also did a lot of praying."

Carlone said she believed the whole struggle was one between good and evil, and that she was fighting on the side of good.

Unable to get the authorities to put a halt to the activities, the women decided to publish a book about the cult and the rescue, a kind of warning to the world that such a thing can happen, even in suburban New Jersey.

Critics have called the book moving and inspirational, and a triumph of personal courage. Yet in some ways, it is a testimony of human weakness and the ability of love to conquer evil, even when it is love between strangers.

"When you look at it from the outside you don't think it can ever happen to you," Burchard said. "You think you're too intelligent to ever let someone talk you into doing such immoral things. Yet it someone reaches you at the right moment, if someone can feel out your weakness, then anyone can be seduced. No one is immune."

Torn from the Arms of Satan is currently available at Amazon.com (click link) as well as the Edgewater and other selected Barnes and Nobel bookstores. Comments are welcome at acepub2@aol.com.

Table of Contents* * *

Moments before the Millennium

The radio's clear-- wave lengths running blank in my mind
The end of the world, another headline in The New York Times
Grave stone magic lying dormant but only few hours away,
These crazy moments we dine in glory before we fade
Ice laden rivers speak of desolated and barren banks
no one knows me, no one sees me, no one's left to hang,
everywhere I go I find soulless empty streets in flame
no one left for when God comes, no one left to blame.

A song lyric by Doug Proust

Table of Contents* * *

SPR interviews God

The trouble started when I tried to run my word processing program during a thunderstorm, an act that was as close to Ben Franklin's idiot experiment as modern humanity can get.

But since the deadline for the next SPR pressed on me and I had already missed the month of October's issue, I figured I'd take a chance, typing madly into my old IBM compatible until a crack of lightning rocked the buildings.

The screen went blank. I cursed. Three hours of work lost in one small surge of power.

Yet it was not the same as the power surges I'd felt in the past.

Normally, the surge came and went, and my computer simply rebooted itself, leaving me back to the same Windows display in which I had started.

This time the screen stayed blank for a while before revealing a whole different program, showing huge two inch high letters. Perhaps this was the prank of some hacker who had managed some how to insert a nasty virus in my computer. I checked the modem. But I hadn't even hooked it up yet. I began to sweat, thinking perhaps hackers had found a way to transmit into my computer via some other means, and they had decided I was the person they wanted to pick on.

The evolving huge letters finally stopped at one word: 

MOSES!

That was all, and I stared at the word for a long time, finally growing more and more angry at the invasion of my privacy. I quickly typed my own message onto the screen:

HEY BUB! WHAT'S WITH THE INTERFERENCE? THIS AIN'T NO INTERNET!

Well, no sooner had I finished typing, than the other party started again, and again delivered that one word:

MOSES!

By this time I saw nothing but red, the bloody vision of three hours of work lost to some jerk with a computer version of a phone phreak's black box.

LISTEN, BUB! THERE AIN'T NO MOSES HERE. YOU GOT THE WRONG PARTY. NOW GET THE HELL OFF MY LINE!

"All right," I cheered. "That's telling off that bastard!

Except the same message came right back like some pre-coded electronic boomerang.

MOSES!

LOOK, I typed, GET THIS STRAIGHT. THERE AIN'T NO MOSES HERE. YOU GOT A WRONG NUMBER. NOW GET LOST BEFORE I CALL THE FCC.

Not that I was sure any of this was covered by FCC regulation. I just figured if the guy was jumping in by radio, it had to be damned illegal.

WHO ART THOU?

Now, I must admit, this stumped me. I stared at the screen as confused by this new message as I had been about anything I'd ever encountered, computer-related or not.

Perhaps I had contacted Ben Franklin's ghost, I thought, then kicked myself for being idiotic. This was the age of scientific reason and there had to be a good explanation for this baffling intrusion. Yet, at the moment, the exact logic escaped me. Like a jerk, I typed in my name, watching it appear in two inch letters then disappear on lingering letter at a time, as if the person on the other end was not merely reading it, but ingesting it. I followed this with a question of my own:

WHO ARE YOU?

Unlike the previous messages, a significant pause followed my question, my message vanishing completely before the new one appeared.

I AM THE LORD THY GOD. THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.

My teeth nearly cracked from gnashing. A Born-Again nut had gotten a hold of me.

Lately, their kind had managed to dominate every internet web site, leaving dark messages about the end of the world and the coming end of the millennium.

Now I was so angry, my fingers shook as I typed in my answer:

AND I'M SATAN, SO BUG OFF, BUB!

I knew that if I engaged them in any other way, I would get trapped in their talk of salvation, how they each would avoid the ill-effects of Rapture by their faith. In general, declaring myself Satan scared off the light-hearted Gospel peddlers. Yet as soon as the new message began to appear, I knew I had found myself eye-ball to eye-ball with one real hard core case. I let out an exasperated sigh and held my head in my hands.

THOUST SHOULD NOT JEST ABOUT SUCH SERIOUS THINGS!

My reply was automatic. Since I knew I would not win in the end, I surrendered.

JUST LEAVE AN ADDRESS. I'LL SEND A DONATION IN THE MAIL.

Again, the screen went black, taking a longer time for the information to sink into the mind at the other end of my communication. The response when it came, only made me moan.

MOSES!

I couldn't fight it, so off the computer, thinking I could make up the work in the morning. Yet just as I was moving to flick off the overhead light and go to bed, the computer cam back on, the single word: MOSES! blinking at me like a stray cat.

It was a cute trick, one that I didn't completely understand, and one that drew me back to my keyboard, as if approaching a land mine.

I AM NOT MOSES, I wrote.

Without a pause, this time, the screen replied:

THOU SHALT DO.

I wiped the sweat from my forehead and palms before typing again.

FOR WHAT?

Again, as quickly as I typed, the reply took the place of my message.

FOR MY END OF THE MILLENNIUM MESSAGE TO THE WORLD

Not only did I have one clever hacker on the other end of this message exchange, but a mad one at that, and I debated what I should do now. I could have called the police, complaining about the invasion of my privacy. Someone must have come in while I was out to wire my computer for this little stunt. Yet like all of us who have wandered the internet for years, the shtick intrigued me, as if I had run into a brand new and marvelously strange computer program, something I desired to download and later analysis.

I typed in another question: WHAT MESSAGE DID YOU HAVE IN MIND?

This direct approach seemed to stump the madman for a moment because it took a few minutes for him to respond, minutes in which I thought I had finally managed to chase him away. Had the unnatural condition of my computer screen not remained, I would have gone off the bed, and indulged in more sensible nightmares.

No, I could not leave. I was as curious as a cat, glad at last to be part of this elaborate hoax, even to the point of seeing some humor in the whole exchange. Finally, letters began to form:

I AM THE LORD THEY GOD,

GRAVE ERRORS HAVE BEEN MADE IN MY NAME,

ERRORS THAT THEE, SIMON, SHALT CORRECT.

I wanted to tell him I was not Simon either, but knew that I had one hell of a story here. The following transcript reflects the interview that followed. The language has been updated for reading convenience

SPR:  Considering that you are God -- a fact that we still haven't determined -- there are things which have stumped humanity for centuries, especially about your intentions concerning the world.

GOD:  This is what I wish to make clear at this time.

SPR:  Well, I suppose we could start with one of the more controversial figures, Jesus Christ.

GOD:  Please! Let's not talk about my Son!

SPR:  Why not?

GOD:  That's where the trouble started.

SPR:  With Christ?

GOD:  No, no, with Man's Fall from Grace. It was the restaurant Jesus used to go to.

SPR:  I'm afraid you lost me there. What restaurant?

GOD:  Call it "The Eye of God." Jesus found Grace eating Spaghetti there.

SPR:  Could you go over that again? I'm sure I missed something. Perhaps in the translation.

GOD:  Look, Son, if I have to keep repeating myself we will never get this done. It's hard enough talking down to your level as it is without having to explain every little detail.

SPR:  Fine. I suppose we could move onto anther question that has puzzled philosophers for generations, such as the inherent nature of evil in the world. Could you explain that?

GOD:  Reruns.

SPR:  Pardon?

GOD:  Exactly.

SPR:  I think we have a serious breakdown in communication here. What exactly did you mean?

GOD:  I mean, Man is doomed. He has no hope. He was sent down to earth with a complete list of instruction, and he still haven't found out yet.

SPR:  Instructions? Do you mean the Bible?

GOD:  You still don't get it, even though it is as plain as the nose on your face.

SPR:  Then there is some truth to Revelations?

GOD:  Revelations? On what day did I create him?

SPR:  in the Bible. The last book of the New Testament. The Douay version called it the Apocalypse. Some people believe it foretells the end of the world and the second coming of your son.

GOD:  Oh, that! Even I don't know what that means. John the Weirdo wrote it, didn't he?

SPR:  Some people call him John the Divine.

GOD:  He was probably on drugs.

SPR:  Surely, there must be some explanation for it.

GOD:  Heavens, yes. It was in the original Alice in Wonderland. Page 67, I think. No, page 66. Most definitely, page 66.

SPR:  Let me get this straight. Are you telling me that the meaning of Revelations is contained in Alice in Wonderland?

GOD:  Where else would it be? But that's not important. What is important is the one word left out of the whole New Testament when it was originally written down.

SPR:  One word?

GOD:  The word: "maybe" -- and no doubt that would answer everybody's questions.

SPR:  Are you telling me there was a deliberate attempt to alter the Bible. Who would do such a thing?

GOD:  Who else? The money changers. You think my Son disliked them without reason? Wicked people, we call them. The Devil is still more wicked. Liquor is wicked, too.

SPR:  I see. But getting back to this list you mentioned earlier. Could this list be the Ten Commandments?

GOD:  Those are a problem, too. Damn that Moses. I knew he couldn't keep it straight. I had another person in mind at the time, but he wasn't available at the time.

SPR:  You mean your Son, Jesus?

GOD:  I mean William Buckley, Jr. He's the only true Roman Catholic, and I don't mean catholic in the universal sense. He may even be more Catholic than the Pope.

SPR:  And why is Buckley so special?

GOD:  He holds the one belief most essential to the Catholic faith: Just desserts for Man. SPR:  So Moses was your second choice. What about someone like Pat Robertson?

GOD:  Ah, Pat. Now there's a true spokesperson for God's voice on earth. But first he must be stopped.

SPR:  Stopped?

GOD:  Martyred, naturally. Then people will see that he had his finger on the right button.

SPR:  (Pause, sigh) Earlier, you mentioned that drugs might have been responsible for Revelations. Considering all the panic that is now going on over drugs, what part do they play in your plans for humanity?

GOD:  Drugs are my way of showing that Man has no way of getting in touch with me. Drugs are Jacob's Escalator. But then, I have a very liberal sense of what constitutes drugs.

SPR:  How liberal?

GOD:  I start with herbal teas.

SPR:  Well -- that seems to be all we have room for...

GOD:  That's all? Don't you want to know something about me personally? Like who my favorite musician is?

SPR:  You have a favorite?

GOD:  I certainly do. Dizzy Gillespie. Not many people know this, but I'm really a horn man at heart. And just for your readers of fashion, you might add that all my robes are stone washed and made by Cappachelli.

SPR:  Is there anything else?

GOD:  Well -- yes. There is the reason I contacted you in the first place. I wanted to tell the world something terribly important, something that old stone-faced Moses missed.

SPR:  And what would that be?

GOD:  That I have a sense of humor, too. I'm not just this stuffy old guy sitting up here in Heaven, sending down thunder bolts at things that aggravate me. I can be quite a funny guy when I want to me. I mean, just look at the world around you. Could anyone without a sense of humor have created the world that way?

SPR:  I did wonder about that.

GOD:  And another thing.

SPR:  Just this last thing. We have a deadline to meet if we want this published by the end of the Millennium.

GOD:  It concerns Noah. I remember specifically telling him before he got onto that ark of his, I told him, whatever he does: no sex. Now look at all that's happened.....

Table of Contents* * *

When time stops

Who counts the time?
The cough in the dark,
the sound in the hall,
the hurt hound baying in the yard?

Who tells them all that they are pure,
purged of the faulty promises
made in their name,
the Christian myth whose wounds
whisper in Satan's voice from the dark,
coughing, cruel hackings
that never relent,
never repent?

Even at the end of the millennium
people don't change, don't repent,
praying to the phases of the moon,
ticks to the clock,
as if time mattered.

A century ago, horses rode here,
the clop of their steady feet
marking a different pace
over wet cobble stones.
We ride side streets at sixty now,
killing anything that gets in the way.

Your bed creeks with rusted complaints,
morning risings unrested, unresolved,
the dream state undissolved,
your white sheets stained with unfulfilled wishes.

Who counts the time now that the clock has stopped,
no alarm to wake you, no radio to put you to sleep,
no children singing, wedding bells ringing,
no angels of God to wing you away?

At the last turn of the Millennium we had the monks,
and the children in the fields,
cool knights with hot steel to protect us,
women laboring under a heavy sun to make us bread.

This is no Y2K madness, no Uncle Floyd nightmare,
no rinky-tink dreamscape of melting clocks,
where we can count the time on our fingers,
one second per heart beat until the heart stops, too.

We mock the Christians on the hill top in their white robes,
laughing as they wait to get swept away,
by angles, devils, God or UFO, they don't care,
and frankly, neither do we, as long as they go.

It is not the Christians we will miss, or the lawyers,
or the cops, or the men of medicine, only the clocks,
the tick, tick, tick of our lives, being swept onward,
relentlessly, with no reason, no mind, no Wall Street.

In the end, when the end comes, how will we know it,
if we have no appointment, or readout to tell us
whether or not we have ended on time?
Who does count the time?

Table of Contents* * *

Copyright 1999 A.D. Sullivan
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