Poem – THE GHOSTS OF TIME (By Ray Gallucci)
THE GHOSTS OF TIME
The moon so ghostly naked in space,
A very inhospitable place,
Long thought devoid forever of life
Was once the post for some other race.
Beneath its surface split as by knife,
In hollowed chamber built with great strife,
Entombed for countless ages were found
Machines and gadgets ever so rife.
Exploring crew could only astound
At cache so well preserved underground.
One’s curiosity took its hold,
So button pushed that uttered no sound.
At once a field of force did enfold
That suited figure somewhat too bold.
While others stared from helmeted eyes,
The figure vanished, or so they told.
Report, at first, just treated as lies.
How could the moon hold such a surprise?
Behind the eyeless sockets so bleak
Once lurked a brood of alien spies?
Off-limits placed this grotto unique
Except to personnel cleared to peek
At wonders there so long didn=t touch
Lest some unknown destruction might wreak.
So scientists, technicians and such
Descended on this fabulous clutch
With instruments and probings galore
To learn its secrets however much.
Not one had seen their likeness before
Except, perhaps, in legend and lore.
Had no idea of what any did
Or handbook over which they could pore.
As Krell from Planet that was Forbid
Technology advanced had they hid.
While nowhere getting, behold and lo,
Became alive some energy grid.
Transmogrified before them a glow
Which silently and ever so slow
Revealed a figure suited in grey –
The lost explorer of whom you know.
Mystified, too startled to say,
“Where did you go when you went away?”
They gaped while she materialized,
Exploded, then, with babbling bray.
“What have you of their knowledge surmised?
What brilliance lies in what they devised?”
“I’ll answer all once I’ve had a chance
To rest again ‘neath earth’s azure skies.”
A few days hence the group was entranced
To hear of what unknowns she had glanced.
“My vision faded of where I stood
Till saw before me endless expanse.
“I floated free, knew not how I would
Begin to find escape where I could.
So forward started, or so it seemed,
When curtain parted, unveiled for good.
“And so I ‘walked’ engulfed in a dream
Which played around me light’s ancient beam.
I watched the moon from planetlets form,
Bombarded hard, yet voiceless to scream.
“I turned aside, beheld such a storm
Enshrouding planet quite a bit warm.
The earth amid its prenatal throes,
A swirling cauldron, lifeless its norm.
“I found that which direction I chose
To ‘travel’ took me far or else close
To earth or moon, while speed I traversed
Determined rate at which time‑line flowed.
“Was unaware of hunger or thirst.
From lack of air my lungs never burst.
While ‘movie’ played around me, did pass
No time for either better or worse.
“The earth it cooled, condensed out of gas
Its oceans, then the land formed a mass –
Pangaea where the dinosaurs bred
Till cosmic killer thundered its blast.
“I found by ‘running’ forward time sped,
While veering sideways, up/down instead
Earth’s surface all became within reach
From Lascaux Cave to Caesar’s bald head.
“But one direction never could breach
No matter how I tried to beseech.
No motion backward, however quick,
Could from its forward path time impeach.
“No ‘button’ labeled ‘rewind’ could click.
Nor could in any moment just stick.
Though still I ‘stood’, time yet forward crept.
Had power just to regulate tick.
“Eventually to present I leapt,
And there before you suddenly stepped.
So that’s my tale, believe it or doubt,
Of ‘secret’ that the aliens kept.”
No expedition too soon could mount
To tunnel everywhere to find out
What source of power long lay entombed
Inside the Selenites’ Youthful Fount.
But of that secret forever doomed
To learn no more than offered that room.
The brightest theory best could invent
Still owed its life to so much assumed.
“Perhaps some sort of gravity lens
Imprisons light from time past immense.”
“Then where’s the hole immeasurably black
To photons lock in gravity’s fence?
“The earth and moon impossibly lack
The mass to turn the light ever back
Upon itself so any could view
The ‘Film of Time’ so neatly intact.”
Though came no answer, without adieu
Were organized the test pilots who
Would enter next the Theater of Time
Where only one had ever passed through.
But, try as might, they never could find
The portal to that passage sublime.
Nor could she who had entered within
E’er reproduce her escapade prime.
No button pushed or lever or pin
Would energize those forces again.
So gradually the interest was lost
As if the chamber never had been.
Came colonists, but over they glossed
The sepulcher now buried by frost
From atmosphere created in dome
Built firmly with hard labor and cost.
Each lunar village now someone’s home
Complete with crystalline laser phone.
And to ensure no souls went to hell,
Religions brought from Mecca and Rome.
Surprisingly these faiths still did well
Despite advance of science pell-mell.
But sometimes things could get out of hand
When fundamentalists rang their bell.
Intolerant as ever their stand
Against whatever they wanted banned.
As always holy books were their law –
The Bible and the Sacred Koran.
To colonies remote they would draw
The disillusioned who in them saw
Escape from life responsibly lived
By wielding bone from some ass’s jaw.
Among these “lunar loonies” arrived
A self-anointed “reverend” who thrived
On fiery brimstone hurled by his God
On those he judged among the unshrived.
“The light of Jesus shines where I trod
Although unworthily am I shod.
I welcome saints into my domain
While sinners on spare never the rod.”
Creationistically he’d maintain,
“Evolved we not from microbic strain,”
Though without qualms from science enjoyed
The benefits he’d have you disdain.
With one obsession he ever toyed –
To “prove” the Bible’s tale of his Lord.
And though fanatic, he wasn’t dumb,
So confrontation did not avoid.
His lectures surely interested some,
For from the colonies there would come
Believers and his followers not
To hear his latest whimsical plum.
“I have contrived the ultimate plot
To prove that Jesus’ life isn’t fraught
With stories false as ‘scholars’ decry,
But true exactly just as I’ve taught.
“Perhaps you think to moon traveled I
To only seek some personal high.
But, no, because of secret I’ve learned
That underneath our feet still may lie.
“When first the early rocket ships burned
And moonward curiosity turned,
Explorers found a wonderful cave
Where flow of time itself could be churned.
“I’ve read the legend of one so brave,
A pioneer who probed that enclave
And trod a path attempted by none
Unknowing that my road she had paved.
“So for that cave a search I’ve begun
And I’ll not stop till entry I’ve won
To distant past when Jesus appeared.”
(A task more simply spoken than done.)
As might expect his advocates cheered
While skeptics in the audience jeered,
“On moon so vastly cratered and pocked
How will you tell what’s normal from weird?”
But reverend in his archives had locked
A disc if known would surely have shocked
Both scientists and skeptics who thought
His scholarship in wrong port had docked.
For when the moon first people had sought,
The Lunar Uplift’s secret was wrought –
The cave’s location preserved on disc
From space museum which he had brought.
From followers he three did enlist,
Companions ignorant of the risk
If entered through the alien gate
Where flow of time none could there resist.
But onward spurred in quest of his fate
The reverend after terran days eight
Of searching every cranny and nook
At last unearthed a hoar-frosted plate.
Above his head triumphantly shook
His fist exclaiming, “Now all can look
Upon God’s path by which I will prove
That only truth’s in Holiest Book.”
Dislodging plate with one mighty shove
The pilgrims four along ancient groove
Stepped reverently till chamber unveiled
The contents of which known only you’ve.
So stood they where just one had assailed,
And numbers since had endlessly failed.
But reverend in his smugness unmatched
Believed he’d found Christ’s long hidden Grail.
On surfaces which others had scratched
In vain attempts to portal unlatch,
The reverend searched meticulously
For panel by which time could be snatched.
But, try as might, he just couldn’t see
What sleight of hand or sheer trickery
Would send him back. And so he excused
From vigil planned his followers three.
Still one remained like reverend enthused
And vowed to wait till reverend had cruised
That path where only Jesus had walked
From birth to death unjustly accused.
If only walls of chamber could talk
And tell them how machinery worked.
But, as before, no clue was displayed,
Yet somewhere knew it secretly lurked.
For inspiration reverend now prayed
While acolyte through pyramids strayed
When wakening subconsciously sensed,
So to the reverend hurriedly said,
“Your holiness, if you would attend
I think some energy’s been dispensed.”
So rising from position of prayer,
He took a step then suddenly tensed.
(We, naturally, by now are aware
Of why and when the energy’s there
To transport back to time ever past
Whomever enters cave without care.
For aliens constructed to last
Machinery none ever outclassed.
But even they had failed to allow
How many aeons time had amassed.
When moon was born, much closer than now
It orbited to earth spinning round.
And so was caught much deeper in grip
Of gravity its parent poured out.
Each year infinitesimal slip
Away from earth moon’s circular trip
Reduced by few the gravitons held
In selenite capacitance strips.
The charge more slowly able to build
And so less often odyssey jelled,
Until today when only enough
Existed after century’s spell.
Criterion which made the “Right Stuff”
To vanish in rare energy puff
Was merely that you just be the first
Who “on/off switches” stumbles among.)
With look of shock he’d never rehearsed
The reverend felt the energy burst
That whisked him back when earth’s naked core
Existed ere the Serpent was cursed.
Like she who path had traveled before,
He found himself in video store
Where he could view whatever he chose
By “moving” toward a mountain or shore.
But cared he not for earth’s natal throes.
Cared not to view how continents rose.
The dinosaurs did not him enthrall,
Nor mammals’ rise or equine’s five toes.
For all this which preceded The Fall
Was just one week which greeted the call
Of God to man created from dust.
And so toward Middle East did he stroll.
But crossing eastern Africa just
As Rift called Great appeared in its crust,
He watch with disbelief at some apes
Who walked on two and mated with lust.
Unable from these sights to escape,
He strode in place while time ticked away.
And so he watched how apes did evolve
To balding beings of humanoid shape.
From heresy he had to resolve
To turn away and seek mental salve.
So down the Nile and ‘cross Sinai’s path
He rushed where thought Four Rivers convolved.
Amid the Fertile Crescent he sat
Where Eden was supposedly at.
But naught he saw of Adam or Eve,
Instead he found a sabertooth cat.
Returning west, he watched creatures leave
From Africa, but could not believe
Those upright beings clad only in skins
Could humans be. How dare they deceive!
Once earth had passed through millions of spins,
The reverend watched last Ice Age begin
And end, so knew the era had come
When mankind true in Eden would sin.
So slowed he time’s unstoppable thrum
While throughout Middle East did he plumb
Oases, valleys, fruited and rich,
Where Eden had originally sprung.
But Adam and his impudent bitch
Were lost among the multitudes which
Had spread to every sliver of land
From early apes of Olduvai ditch.
He watched for they who to Abraham
Appeared so sinful Sodom could damn.
He waited for the Red Sea to part
And lion to lie down with the lamb.
But gradually grew heavy his heart
For none of these events could he chart.
Begrudgingly he had to admit
His quest had less than optimal start.
“Perhaps Old Testament’s “full of it.”
That doesn’t mean that I have to quit.
Indeed, the tales of Christ must be true
And so to Bethlehem will I flit.”
In Palestine when Rome ruled anew
He searched the sky for radiant view
Of star supposed to show him the spot
Of Jesus’ birth so long overdue.
Though comet flashed, him nowhere it got.
No census, stable, royal slaughter plot.
No hosts of heaven, shepherds or kings.
Miraculous events there were not.
In fact he saw just regular things
Like births and deaths and life’s little flings.
But underneath their daily routine
He sensed the hopes to which people cling.
Throughout the countryside often seen
Were “rabbis” with a Cynical mien.
And one from Galilee seemed to draw
The largest crowds with tongue ever keen.
Encouraged not the breaking of law,
But rather preached of future he saw
Where mercy ruled instead of revenge
And peace was chosen rather than war.
Though cured no sick, still hatred could quench
This Jesus who worked carpenter’s bench.
No water wined or Lazarus raised,
But did indeed stop stoning of wench.
Though ancient lore with which he amazed
Was gleaned from reading prophet and sage,
Humility and eloquence his
Brought hope to merchant, leper and slave.
The reverend heard him hypocrites quiz,
Authorities he dared to off kiss.
While commoners him rallied around,
The powerful feared things were amiss.
Jerusalem at Passover found
Congested streets with festival bound
Crusaders who on Temple converged
To listen to this Jesus astound.
Though normally non-violence he urged,
With wrath into the Temple he surged
Destroying, thus providing excuse
To be arrested, sentenced and scourged.
Supposéd friends were first to refuse
To lend support for feared they would lose
Their lives in Rome’s most horrible way
Upon a cross, pierced, battered and bruised.
A martyr made of Jesus that day
When crucified and thrown in a grave.
Though followers dared not venture forth,
Inside a few still burned with his flame.
The one called Simon looked for the worth
Of Jesus’ death, but found only dearth
Until remembered legends of old
Of winter death and springtime rebirth.
Of Greeks’ Adonis story was told
How dying when the weather turned cold
He’d rise again come spring of next year.
A myth that every culture extolled.
So why could not his Jesus appear,
The Risen God to conquer his fear?
So with his friends this “vision” he shared
That Jesus to them ever was near.
More boldly now this little band dared
To preach how much for all Jesus cared.
Thus little cult was born from his death
And grew among those who had despaired.
Throughout the Middle East rumors spread
Of new religion worshiping dead.
But never would it travel beyond
Till Jews’ rebellion came to a head.
While Rome of Jewish taxes grew fond,
A selfish fringe saw chance to respond
And seize the state from Rome’s distant grasp
By telling masses that they’d been conned.
So from resentment, struck like an asp
The Jewish War destructive and crass
When Hebrew homeland died amid flame
And Jews no longer Temple could clasp.
But from these ashes Jesus’s name
Was heard by others feeling the same
In Antioch, then Athens and Rome
Till Christianity was proclaimed.
Transmogrified to figure of stone,
The reverend gaped in theater alone.
Though most inspiring others would find
The truth of Jesus, he wasn’t one.
No resurrection morning so kind.
No brilliant star or curing the blind.
A man of honor, courage and love
Was born and lived, then finally died.
With dogma and mythology shoved
Aside we see no god from above,
Just Hellenistic spin on a cult
Arisen from the spilling of blood.
No “Holy Cause” Crusaders’ tumult.
No “Heresy” when Cathars were culled.
No Inquisition tortures deserved.
No witch’s pyre should have been built.
Thus to the present reverend unnerved
Returned at last since space-time is curved.
His acolyte asked, “Where have you been?
You seem more than a little disturbed.”
Replied, “My son, I must with chagrin
My proselytizations rescind.
In Jesus found a man, not a god.
All wasted faith on him that I pinned.”
“I must you from this lethargy prod.
So what if just religious façade?
Did not this Jesus live as he preached?
Did not his words inspire the mob?
“Cannot we for his pedestal reach?
Like Buddha, Gandhi, didn’t he teach
A way to live much better than most?
Did not he dignity bring to each?
“Today he may be only a ghost
From past without a deific host.
Does not apply a smile to your face
To know the truth devoid of the boast?”
And so the moon still naked in space
Became a little friendlier place
Where each could live a tolerant life
Because of gift from alien race.
(Published in PABLO LENNIS, 10/97)
I am a Professional Engineer who has been writing poetry since 1990. I am an incorrigible rhymer, tending toward the skeptical/cynical regarding daily life. I have been fortunate to have been published in poetry magazines and on-line journals such as NUTHOUSE, MOTHER EARTH INTERNATIONAL, FEELINGS/POETS’ PAPER, MÖBIUS (when Jean Hull Herman published), PABLO LENNIS, MUSE OF FIRE, SO YOUNG!, THE AARDVARK ADVENTURER, POETIC LICENSE, THUMBPRINTS, UNLIKELY STORIES, BIBLIOPHILOS, FULLOSIA PRESS, NOMAD’S CHOIR, HIDDEN OAK, PABLO LENNIS, POETSESPRESSO, SOUL FOUNTAIN, WRITER’S JOURNAL, ATLANTIC PACIFIC PRESS, DERONDA REVIEW, LYRIC, THE STORYTELLER, WRITE ON! and DANA LITERARY SOCIETY.