Five Stones – Poem by John C. Mannone

Clear water plunges through the sandstone basin,
tumbles over lead-gray limestone. Fragments worn
smooth, edges rounded.

He stands amidst the stream, surveys the bottom
between the ripples all the way to where the sky
edges the water’s mirror. He kneels in the stream bed,
rifles for pebbles matching caliber of the sling-pocket
of his leather-thronged catapult. His fingers search,

rolling over each small stone. He finds five.
Pouches them. Remains kneeling, praying until
the bronze rays of the sun glance his shoulders
as if a gleaming sword anointing him for battle.

The late sun silhouettes a grotesque shadow, long
on the hill and in the valley where he hears defiance
and giant’s roars. Taunting mouths full of teeth lie
in rotting jaws, like the jaws once felled from asses
now laying silent, as the dead. How quickly Samson
has been forgotten. Yet this one young shepherd, too

had slain the lion and the bear; in stealth,
now strikes like an arrow. From behind the rocks,
David lunges, powered by words of G_d. Unerring
telemetry guides the red stone thrusting fire
of vengeance on Ashdod, on Hamas in Gaza.

The projectile burrows deep through skin and skull.
Numbs the giant’s brain. And the ground shakes
when he falls. David takes from the Philistine Gibor
his long heavy sword, still sheathed in mailed sash,
glittering in the nuclear sun.

David holds his head high. And the word goes out
unto all the land of the Raphaim, but the sons and
brothers of Goliath will not be able to hide.

David has four stones left—smoothed, ready.

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