Free Manna

Free Manna

Moses killed the Minotaur
And Egypt was a labyrinth
And as he had no ships he split
The sea and walked on gravel
Like a lizard walks on sand and
Wound up in New Amsterdam
Watching a sickle cell moon set
A jet on its way to La Guardia
Passed right over Mars above
The trees of life and dogma
In the center of the garden one
As life, as nature (or physis),
Appears as the physician;
The tree of dogma, custom, or
The nomos, is the nomeus:
Shepherd and healer, the Janus of Jesus
Where one tree will flourish
The other’s diminished —

Two trees, two forests
One with its wood
Which builds weapons and prisons
Money, pollution
The other pumping oxygen
And free fruit, like manna

Tree of life as burning bush
The flames of Heraclitus
Spirit, not letter, of law —
Two trees
Of ease and disease

The law of the shepherd
Of Moses, Muhammad
and Jesus
All fighting for sheep to keep
In labyrinths of rules
Spreading out their colonies
Enclosing their pastures
And hoarding the manna
For profit — Mohammed,
And Jesus, and Zeus
The shepherd, the pastor, the master

And who is the healer
And what’ll they do?
To heal the sick globe

Cut the one down
So the other may grow


Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber