A ode to the few true match sellers I have been privileged to know
I once lived on Kingdom Street and used to walk its path
As I made my daily journey into the worldly wise
And on either side, speaking brimstone and oncoming wrath
Where the match sellers trying to offer their little fires.
Their lights were bright, their voices were crying aloud
And one by one, they struck and lit the matches before me
They were but a performance to the disinterested crowd
For their desire to sell made them absurd to see.
They danced before me every single raining day –
Telling me of how this little light could change my soul
They lit and flung the drowning matches into my fixed way
While they spoke to me of fires, and lamps and coal.
They lit bright fireworks to blaze upon our dark sky
They wrote songs like the tavern lyrics we sang each night
And yet while they sang to me of a life both bright and dry –
Their houses behind them were devoid of warmth and light.
The windows had once seen some golden sunrise but forgot
The doors were muddy from their own damp tavern shoes
For the light was not there in deed, but only thought
The only warmth these people gave was to wooden pews.
To strike the matches to their own lamps never crossed a mind
For what real part ever had this day with their night?
In their choices, they were the blind leading on the blind
Their kingdom had no place for this intrusive light.
What if it shone upon the places best kept deep and dark?
What if it urged them toward a greater, martyred goal?
What if their lives became a bonfire to this immortal spark?
And what if they were called upon to pay the final toll?
No, it was far better to sell this brightness quickly on
Then ever engage its pure practice upon themselves
They disapproved of our beautifully perverse Babylon
But they wanted to live in our world, not us by ourselves.
There were other match sellers on that fateful street
And they were mocked by all who passed them by
For they did not shout and dance, only quietly entreat
That they might show us the reasons why to buy.
Their backs bore the mark of another’s heavy lash
Their hands were those of a soldier’s, fighting long at war –
They did not stand together in a pile of smoking ash
But held alone one glowing torch before an open door.
The stained glass glowed stranger than any rocket’s glare
And the candles lit the rooms for all inside to see
There was indeed human weakness and old evil there
But it was painted on the walls, a portrait of who they used to be.
I watched, as painfully, they lit another lamp to consume
The dark, and heard the mocking jeers of the sentimentalist,
“Light not the side issues, our only purpose is their impending doom –
If you care that much, then here! The mark of the fundamentalist!”
For many years I watched them both as I walked their way
And saw a heritage rising strong before my eyes
For many children stood in the doorways of the day
And yet pattering feet soon left the homes of harsh cries
To seek out warmth and light, they ran to Our Woman’s arms –
Babylon the Great welcomed them with a luster never known
For unlike their parents, she could read their palms
She saw that their hunger, she could feed to make Her own.
And in the doorways of the light, silhouettes there stood
That few were changed through many passing years
The souls that left departed as they would
But few they were, and forever mourned with bitter tears.
For to the third and fourth generations of those who loved Him
To those who truly burnt for the torch could not help but light
Those little ones following on behind them
To also burn themselves alive in pure, flaming fight.
One day I could not help but stop, and ask one bent old man –
“What is the reason for this light? This light your grandson is holding there?
Sell to me, I wish to know if, indeed, there is a greater plan –
You are the reason that I have stopped, by the mark you bear.”
The old man’s brand shone with pride another world must give
While his scars dimly mirrored greater ones above
He drew me close, and lit my match, “My son, you live!
We here, we burn and struggle in true testament of love.”
“For if this world keeps turning, we must turn along with it
And seek out souls to guide them to the Way
These matches in our hearts must be forever lit
By the actions that we make, and the words we must say.
And if we do not light our lamps with the words we sell
Then how can we ever halt this sun in its flaming sky?
Unless we struggle to a great goal, never shall they tell
That we change the course of nations by the dark we all defy.”