He might have been god…

The Name of God

I never knew the name of the man in the red vest,
with seven pockets and a knife sharpened pencil,
fingers dirtied with iron dust from picking nails,
clipping lengths of rope or showing men how-to
just about everything there is to-do that drove them
to the hardware store early on a Saturday morning,
every Saturday morning with my father who looks
and carefully lingers, sorting through nuts and bolts
waiting for our turn to ask about the broken part
dirtying my Dad’s palm and me wondering why
my father who knew everything didn’t know this;
I stared at the man’s boots that looked like
they were never new, his navy blue pants with
bottom inch turned-up into a cuff holding sawdust
as he told, then showed Dad the how-to to-do
and I nodded along with them like I understood it all;
I never knew his name, but it might have been God.

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Not many isn’t enough…

salvation“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”
1 Corinthians 1:26

Not many isn’t enough
The apostle said, Not many
with a note of humility to make
me wonder who they are and
why they’re not in church.

Finals week at Oberlin…

imageIt’s the quietest of quiet afternoons
with a day to read (again)
for an oddly scheduled final,
as a wisp of Lorain air trindles
through pines that have seen it all;
a painter dressed in white from
head to toe erases smart graffiti
from a STOP sign without caring,
a girl sits in her car
crying over something worth crying over,
and a professor walks her equally aged
canine across another lawn until it
stops and sits for the very good reason
of looking at nothing at all
in the middle of everywhere but
there is no complaint of better to do
and this professor waits as happily slowed
to another stop today at Oberlin.

What’s original about sin…

Eve-shoving-the-apple-in-Adams-mouthBlame the serpent (that’s Eve’s ploy), then Adam blames Eve (though she was just a toy), and God who created it all; add this together and we have the fall.

The history of religion is the history of blame, the motive for religion is guilt, the means of religion is empathy, and the denunciation of it all is sympathy. That is, only those who care go to hell.

 

History of Sin

History a tale of fallen’s friends
giving account of what had to be,
fixed  by a sovereign who sees the end
saddled with desire to be free;

lost to be found, but only through Rome
intrude on our lust, our passion, home,
named ex opere – the lusty lie
sprinkle the babies lest they all die;

create the fright, threaten what’s scary
touch our babes, but you’re still necessary,
triumph assured, all wars justified
feelings condemned not capitalized.

Who erred that all are born this way
simply answered, we all come astray,
it’s sin, not hunger, that babies cry,
and not biology why we all die.

 

Love Story

We met at the beginning of the circle
when all was new just to each other,
soon we thought we were always we,
stories merged like one on another;

what it was, was easy enough to be
always something, everything undone,
damned by fruit of a forbidden tree
critiquing what once was begun;

tested, not tempted, fallacies, not lies
our Kant dared us from infants to grow
question by taste, deceived by our eyes
stop just taking, trusting, we can know;

no prudes, no rules, the circle begun,
exemplary yet derided for immemorial
blamed by Hippo for perfection undone
but not the cause, simply the tutorial;

we’d eat it again and again in love,
the defiance was arbitrary after all
as was the command – it was a shove
toward deconstruction and not a fall;

it’s quiet, our story, beyond this plot
we loved, with fear – that our glory,
wandering together for what we ought,
we are Eve and Adam – a love story.

Thinking about thinking about thinking…

The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin

When we spend as much time thinking about thinking as we think about not thinking, we are closer to Descartes than Derrida.

I say, enjoy the ride, and don’t feel bad about residing in an ivory tower (it’s better than being homeless).

 

Thinking About Thinking
How people think in the bathtub
is beyond me, I just don’t know how they do it;
the water is warm enough just so long,
worth thinking about,
then I wonder if it’s okay to run more hot water
and how full is too full
and if I have to start the thinking
all over again from the beginning
or if I can pick up where I left off,
but I give up,
nothing important comes to mind,
except that I have nothing important
to think of and how a bath won’t
make it happen, and I notice
my fingers are pruney, the water feels slimy;
I can’t wait to get out, dry off
and see how long it takes until I decide
to try to think of something
worth thinking about again.

Thoughts and Thoughts
A thought that can be thought
without something thoughtful to be done
is no thought at all, but a mere pretender;
thoughts which generate no ideas
and make the weak weep, the simple
comfortable, and the frail cringe at whims
like wishes so all beggars ride. Puzzled and
rancorous ideas are harmless excuses of
unexamined life, a sermon looking for life
in the service of paranoid, naval-gazing
called spirituality, pharmacology without
diagnosis, life without death,
desire without lust, and obedience without
ignorance. Ruined lives litter the path of
thoughts, bitter disciples
are casualties of this pedagogy,
angry tears are learners’ lovers, hemlock
cocktails mixed by the bartender of the many.

Once upon a time…

Heraclitus-829Memories are the stuff of stories – the unchangeable past meets the fleeting present to confront an unknown future, with a moral or a sentiment (loss, sadness, good thing missed and unappreciated until it’s too late, lessons learned but only in perfect hindsight, and once-upon-a-time dreams unfulfilled or dashed on the harsh, unforgiving, jagged rocks of time).

We write once-upon-a-time tales about primitive themes – what was once perfect, great or good is now lost to us and imperfect, distant and gone. Primitivism is more than sentiment, it is a way of viewing time, the world, people, and ourselves, and complaining about or assigning blame, for the difference and distance we perceive between a romantic past and our troubled present.

And it’s a lie.

Once-upon-a-time isn’t necessarily a lie. But primitivism is almost always a lie.

That stream has passed; it’s not wrong or evil or sin that time is time, biology is living, the earth is turning, or life is different. The idealized past is possibly the greatest corruption of the greatest gift – memory, by means of a moralizing that accuses as virulently as it accepts.

The solution? We try to ignore the past. That doesn’t work (remember memory is always with us). Pray for selective amnesia? It comes easily or too suddenly or harshly or sadly to be a genuine blessing. Or, we may make an agreement that although it may be otherwise, we will live with the wink-and-a-nod of the second naïveté – the born again trust of immaturity after suffering the harshness of modern hopelessness. It may be otherwise, but we agree to trust what others refuse to believe; not because it can’t be otherwise but because one can’t live with the nothing of a vacuum – the void of life without value, meaning, and hope (but often without reason, evidence or proof which makes it impossible to affirm, love or trust). Thus, we make an agreement – a covenant, about that stream (thank you, Heraclitus – the weeping philosopher) which can never be stepped into twice – all is in change, nothing remains the same (the opposite of primitivism to be sure, and so much better).

That Stream

That stream – the one that’s never
the same stepped-in twice,
at the same bend, with the same
sameness – will not refuse my dabbling
toe; she will yield to me, and I to her,
not out of pity or sheer desire,
but because we have
agreed not to continue the charade
of indeterminate, transient mockery
that idles youth, corrupts good
and haunts the aged.

There are nouns after all – persons,
places, things – that are, not because
of forms but in sentences which are
like streams with dabbling toes
and bubbling eddies, shapely bends;
so inviting and seducing, calling
with her come hither of comeliness.

Yes, the waters flow, the bed and silt
are stirred and is upset by every touch
of my foot but I step into the flux
and flow nonetheless, I stoop to
cup her cool waters and sip contentedly
for she yields to me and I to her,
but unhurried, unchasing motion
in symbiosis as we move together
in rhythm – our panta rei
joined freely in flow.

Let those who scold and chide
these many, many years continue
their fluxing prater of fuel and flame,
for we, my stream and I, have come to
an understanding and will agree to
agree that this day we are the one;
her cool waters are as real as
my weary step – sensations rippling
in her as much as me,
as tangible as the rush and tingle which
tickle my limb and stir her bed in swirls
of sediment twisted awake from slumber
dancing along current and wake we have
made together in our covenant today.