The man in the Peter Booth landscape
stares out with red eyes
while the city burns behind him.
Fearful and anxious blacks and greys
give birth bloodily to the distress and pain
of orange flame and scarlet moon.
(Or is it the sun?)
The standing white dog observes without judgement;
nothing that these mortals do can surprise him.
Booth’s apocalyptic vision
could have been referencing this Lucan passage,
speaking as it does, of celestial signs
in the firmament above,
and distress upon earth.
The literalists get excited,
talk fervently of the day that is coming,
of end-times, judgement
and of the hope of heaven’s compensation
for earthly hardship and indignity.
Vindication for the righteous.
They look to the skies, eager to be the first
to see their Master surfing the clouds,
hoping for a mid-flight rendezvous.
Look, Jesus, here we are;
we’ve kept ourselves nice!
It is not in the skies
that the work of faith is to be done,
but here, among earth’s dust,
where the faithful wait
with yearning and with tears,
and with defiant love; costly, unresting.
They press on, determinedly declaring
in the midst of indifference, uncertainty and distress:
The kingdom of God has come near!