Everyone gets a church…

The Church of Tolkien

There’s talk of starting a Tolkien Church
espousing the doctrines of J. R. R. himself,
and why not confer sainthood and worship
the Hobbit of oversized feet and the Shire;
if L. Ron Hubbard has one and we enjoy
dianetics, Jim Jones has his grape Kool-Aid,
Koresh a compound for Reno to ruin,
Rome its V-8 Pope-mobile, the 95 theses
of a German monk setting Europe ablaze,
and every Tom, Dick and Harry a pulpit
and tax-exempt status, why not Tolkienism;
let’s all make saints of our heroes,
ignore their warts, praise their creativity
as authority and bow in humble worship
asking for commands to fill all our days
and our minds lest we are tempted,
once again, to take and eat and know
for ourselves that we are but dust and
that’s our true home when we’re done.

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How many churches are there…

– The Fourth Church of the Defector

The sign says there’s a population of just 203, but that’s
a number from long before the U.S. Census started to
officially ignore what folk’s around here call Harold’s Creek,
where Indiana State Road 44 crosses County Road 260E,
past Salem Road at the only hollow in the earth for miles,
with six dusty, empty storefronts too close to the two-lane
and everyone blames Walmart the shops are empty, but
the truth is they’ve been vacant so long no one can
really remember, yet they know who to blame so
they can sleep at night, there’s no religion here with
two abandoned churches, one was a Methodist clapboard
and looks so Americana, the other a brick Presbyterian
looking so Presbyterian, and they sit on opposite corners
of the four-way stop now ignored as obviously as these
churches once were, but it’s easy to imagine the
booming voices of preachers out-sermonizing one another
through open windows on steamy Sunday mornings while
their faithful flocks nodded off, and there’s a big, old sign
with an arrow pointing nowhere to The Fourth Church
of the Defector, founded in 1892, a church started when
no other church could be right, and it took at least
four iterations to get this one right, which makes one wonder,
how bad could it have been, back in 1892 that is, but then
you recall a bit of wisdom, that when there’s nothing to
fight about people give up, and sometimes they just
give up anyway, like here at Harold’s Creek
near State Road 44 and County 260E in Indiana.

Aeschylus stands, mocking us…

 – There is a Street

At that opening of time when
slumbering dawn quietly overwhelms night’s hold,
and the soft glow of Mercy patiently plods
the moral-less darkness of her own anonymity
as light appears in unembarrassed windows
stained fresh with the dust of life
to greet curious strangers who will soon pass
spying how others might face the day,
and if all that’s lingering can simply be forgotten,
all that haunted and whispered and taunted
can be forgiven or concealed,
while inside Aeschylus stands, arm encircled
in his garment, bald but boldly bearded and
as Greek as can be steering every
tragedy in his constant effort to choose happiness
which we want to believe, we do, but
we choose to keep walking this street
looking for another answer in another window
and another choice that will be made for us.

What it’s like to die in exile…

– Like Ovid

Like Ovid I will die in exile
and no one will know why,
obvious rumors will fly
getting his due, they’ll smile
in assured ways their lie
comforting thoughts supply
and enjoy my sour cry
from my joyless isle
knowing justice will supply
but I won’t know why
emperors once prized
but were just as spry
in sending me here to die.

When your child leaves to change the world…

She Will Not Always Come Home

From the very first there were clues
that she saw the world as her own,
her realm, home, hers to rule
with benevolent whimsy alone.

Off she’d go to play, learn, fly
charming allies, everyone’s queen;
every hello with an attending good bye,
assembling delight in her daily routine.

More she wandered, more she went,
the more she loved as she explored,
new and old with equal content;
a gypsy girl for journey’s reward.

Proud and pleased, by her she swirled,
unapologetically she’s set to roam;
off to change this amusing world
and she will not always come home.

What is it about dreams…

Dreaming a dream

Thoughts which wake are many and few,
dancing between they always pursue
the start, the gasp of rest been robbed,
testing haunts, peace be mobbed;

starting from within, so we’re told,
suddenly alive once hidden foretold
erasing peace and awakening fear
haunted and close, close as near;

wish them gone and they return
curse the many and one discern,
then from the one all manner come
waking the sense before the sun.

Jack of all trades…

Oh, to be a Jack

Jack of all trades, master of none,
was the watchword back in the day
and I always found it so annoying;
an excuse, I was sure, to just ignore
so much going-on, available to me,
ready to become part of my little life
and make it big and exciting and alive;
but because of a distrust in abilities,
my grasp of every little thing, lacking
discernment, the inability to discern
between lust and love, hyper-attentive
distractedness, and the damnable
curiosity that kills cats, I was told
I just didn’t need to know because
people in power like to keep secrets
in order to keep it for themselves;
but I didn’t want their power,
I was no master, I just couldn’t stand
being happy with not being a Jack.

What I feared about the year 2000…

In the Year Two-Thousand

When I grow up I will be old,
but little else will be different,
I remember dreaming at night,
like running will still be easy
but maybe I won’t want to
run as much as I do now,
I don’t remember thinking
about choices or school,
having more or less money,
hair loss, getting fat, or sex;
and everyone would still be
alive but they wouldn’t and
I didn’t realize it back then,
they’d be sunny summer days
with baseball games and
watermelon but no mosquitoes
and bees would stay near the
flowers and leave me alone
while I ate hot dogs and
salty potato chips, and drink
fruit punch like it was beer,
and far off into the future
it might be scary to be me
like the year two thousand
when I’d be forty years old
if I ever lived that long.

Little old man, little old church…

The Little Old Man and the Little Old Church

There’s a little old church across the road that divides
the world – red brick, black roof, steepleless, with
every charm that makes people say, ‘look at that
little old church,’ and today there’s a little old man
mowing the lawn, slowly and carefully as if he’s tending
Eden; he’s dressed for the occasion if the
year was one of those just after World War II,
in his long sleeved shirt and a thin tie – cinched
to the collar which hangs loosely looking like it
would have fit perfectly back before his flesh started
going the way of all flesh, but now he’s the one
who has been planning his whole week around
this job and I’m sure I can hear him saying to himself
he’s doing this because people depend upon him
and if he doesn’t no one will, and you do some
things just because they are the right thing to do,
and no, he can’t visit the grandkids today because
you know perfectly well that he has to mow the
lawn at church and that phrase ‘at church’ has
all the moral importance of a decree or encyclical
issued by a synod or council long ago when
such things mattered – when such pronouncements
settled all disputes, because it looks like he’s still
living in that world or wishes he were, and there are times
that I’d like to live in that world too, but not today.

What it’s like to fill a hole…

Into the Abyss

Once upon a time they were called a road crew
but I have no idea what they’re called these days,
six men, leaning on shovels looking into their hole,
while another’s at work therein pounding or digging
and it is hard to tell who’s in charge in this circle
or maybe they’re all in charge or need to be today
while that one poor man does whatever it is he does
down in that hole which will soon be filled again.