Home > Poetry > Five Senses of the End Time
Published: Sun Oct 15 2000
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 52 Aging Spirituality Violence
Five Senses of the End Time


When I look back I see
I’ve spent my life seeing—
under that flat stone—what?
why that star off kilter?

Turn turn, I intoned, and
out of the stone there stood
What-Not in a white garment.

Jacob’s ladder descended
(the angels holding steady)

I mounted and I
saw what


What then did you hear?
(a rabbi intoned on the way)
‘Death knell, birth cry, both
wrung from throat.’


Taste was gruesome and sweet.
First, a prison privy.

They pushed your face down
in the common woe of war,
the shit of conquering heroes.

But then in a desert place
honey from a lion’s jaw!
I tasted at long last



In no time at all
death, and you’re compounded
princeling or jackanapes
with common carrion stench.

Which isn’t the point I believe.

I carry in memory
like a bride her bridal flower
in two tremulous hands—
odor of wild roses
wet with Block Island fog.


It was touch and go all the way.
I saw along the way
blur of blood, then closer
a wounded wayfarer
hands, feet, heart’s pocket
rent savagely.
Touch! he cried, and live!
Mirror mirror—
him I saw, myself
rent. And in went.

See what's inside AGNI 52

Daniel Berrigan is a Jesuit priest and author of more than fifty books of poetry and prose. He is deeply involved in the global peace movement and a contributing editor of Sojourners, a Christian social justice magazine. (updated 6/2010)

“A Conversation with Daniel Berrigan” by Mark Wagner appeared in AGNI 43.

Back to top