Lost manuscript…

manuscript

This started as the tale of a lost manuscript,

an idea that became a story that might have

become an enjoyable book but never will be

as it took a turn while contemplating what was

sacrificed to produce something that’s now gone,

consuming more time than good should

these years of distraction when everything pleasing

around me twisted, lovingly straining to keep

me in the middle as each new wheel began to spin

its own rings, feeding off the others,

once so close their energy sparked blindingly,

now bouncing in their own orbits here, there,

it all happened so slowly, so perfectly, and I

now know I missed too much that I hope they

each captured while I pounded out words

of a fictional life no one could possibly lead

as my own unbelievably wonderful one spun

in and out of days and seasons and states

that are now the lost manuscript of my life.

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Walkabout…

WalkingI went for a walk
in the midday clear
without a care
I started here
first I stepped
down the way
looking to turn
and go astray
few set out such
finding one lost
choosing to remain
found at all cost
views first cleared
then went belief
next conviction
this path a thief
I trust no thought
that comes at rest
and make no vow
without a test
no crumbs to trace
no map to cheat
this losing way
made by my feet
I recall that once
it was très fictional
to banter such
so equivocal
for keeping all
enslaved in race
made wars of life
with power in place
until such time
as walks unrare
became a fashion
and tactless aware
question a question
doubt a doubt
avoiding tenure
enjoying the route
power is race,
race is war,
art is tactic
and strategy ignore
limping along
there are ways
for undoing control
and refusing praise
ignoring so much
of important voice
searching out stories
learning to rejoice
enjoying the noise
and lacking cares
following slaves
attending affairs
there is no way
no map to home
no loss of joy
and so I roam.

6 Kinds of People

peopleThere are six kinds of people in the world,
and while that seems a few too many, it
really is just about right; most tell the story
in binary terms of thin or fat, tall or short,
boy or girl, innie or outie, lefty or righty,
black or white, but the either/or’s miss
the point that they’re there to make life
easier, remove fear and create it at the
same time, in the us/them of good or
evil, on or off, East or West; six kinds
of people is too hard for thoughtless
assumptions and is never divisible the
same way every time; the first kind of
person needs drama, enemies or gossip
to feel important and alive, the second is
passive-aggressive in an adolescent kind
of way, like adolescents are, rejoicing
in not liking much as in nothing much,
the third are the lovers of any and all
in a genuine need to love whatever
it doesn’t matter what, no matter who,
and the fourth just don’t understand
what the problem is but are unsure why
everyone seems so uncomfortable all the
time, the fifth are saddled with guilt and
consternation over what must have gone
wrong and are eager to serve as the
scapegoat of life’s troubles and unsatisfied
desires, and the sixth kind are very, very
needy but there’s nothing that will satisfy
whatever it is that may be needed; and
there is no seventh kind or perfect balance
or exact blend of all in just one, no
superhero or Mary Poppins of practically
perfect proportionality to frustrate everyone
else and solve the puzzle; all in-between
are tints, hues and shades creating
landscapes of families and clubs,
churches and schools, homes and
aways that struggle over who to admit,
to welcome, to evangelize, convince,
convert, or date or marry, love and
hate, ally with or against in this circle
of surviving constantly being twisted
into squares but refusing to hold
the edges and always opting for the
three-hundred-sixty degrees that
breathing requires; this is no
anthropology or divinity but strange
anecdotes of funny stories with punch
lines and laughs to be shared or
explained as we search for an audience
called friendship in the theatre of war.

The Spirit blows where it damn well pleases…

My Pentecost

I know what it is
to be lonely,
to be alone
because I know,
I’ve sensed,
what it is to
feel the breeze
of your Spirit
coming and going,
and going
(don’t go, please,
don’t go).

I hear the story
of morning drunks
(or so they seemed)
on a pneumatic
bender of fire
and language,
of languages
not their own,
that brought
smiles and questions,
and questions
needing answers.

Does your Spirit
come and stay,
and stay
and stay
and stay with sinners
who beg
and beg
‘take not thy spirit from me’
as David did
when he saw himself
as another Saul,
when he saw himself
as Saul should have
seen himself;
please Lord,
please stay,
please stay with me.

I want to laugh
and cry
in your Spirit;
I want to jump
and scream
in your Spirit;
I want to sit
and sleep
in your spirit;
I want to live
and die
in your Spirit;
in your Spirit,
in your Spirit.

 

 

The reason I was born…

The_First_Thanksgiving_cph.3g04961Thanksgiving

Thank you, blind luck,
the binary chance known as me,
the accidents we call history,
when Mom and Dad were where
and I became here instead of nowhere
in the geography called home
for now, but who knows next year
where this might all be I fear
like those who first tried surviving
in the someone else’s somewhere
of those indigenous Wampanoag
thankful with others but not sure why;
may I be at least as unaware
and thus grateful as I don’t care.

A wordy perversion of diversion…

scrabbleWords hide what can only be said.

Workman by Day
A nobody to professors, a workman by day
this subtly ordinary man said we write
(if we do) for others and not ourselves;
a simple diversion for the wordy perversion
making things fit snug like a girdle once did,
hiding things curvy, restraining and deceiving
the favors like adverbs for our great, untidied
neighbors, their reading a passion for our
weakened fashion of night’s haunts which
scare us awake and forced one to contemplate
the nightmares of failures and adult scares
which only verse hides what sunlight chides.

 

 

Salvation and other messy words…

salvationSalvation is not a religious word. It has become one, but only by losing its usefulness – its realism.

To preserve from harm or loss, deliver from, hold back, keep rather than lose – in a phrase, to love well,  with consequence. Not all love is salvation, but all salvation is love. Unless… unless it becomes religious.

Salvation Song

In search of the lost, each
and every day, without fail;
certain you’re out there
wandering, daring to wonder
at the recovery of your way,
regaining your bearings for
home, for the way it once was
when you knew of comfort
or simply no better, and love,
especially love, now lost;
you’re certain, aren’t you,
no one is looking, no one
cares as long as you don’t
interfere with the ways of
those who’ve never been
lost and thus, are never found;
evangelist I am not, counselor
ignored, prophet spurned,
only you know, Lord, if these
bones can live again, but
to what end – for another war
of destruction, another test
of fidelity, another loss of
love – no, they’d be better
to bake in the sun, strewn
about, picked over, broken;
hope of change in the pocket
doesn’t raise the dead,
protestations of sins forgotten
only console the guilty,
joyous hymns of sacrifice
are the blood sport of piety,
none of those are for the
found among the lost surely;
if you return, you expect
servitude, for that’s what
you’re taught the never
ending price of restoration
must be – will-less existence
while all other retain theirs,
and once returned you’re
never trusted and must
continually prove the
celebrated recovery – always
so, but never arrived, never
home because you can’t
go home again, can you;
I have no guilt, no pity either,
I am no god in need of
your praise, gifts or alms,
make no pilgrimage to me
for I am not home either,
I am a worm and not a man,
a son of man only whose
fato is the same as yours,
no sacred tale of success but
victorious defeat, no tragic
celebratory dirge to hide
the pride of humiliation;
the telling is itself compelling
as much for it’s incorrigible
neglect of largesse as my
refusal to be examined,
my anonymity, my death
as an author on the pyre
as Dido, lacking comparison;
I seek by looking ahead only
as I pass your lair, ignoring
cries for gifts my mercy is
only discovered in the walk,
the follow-after leaving
the lost still wondering if
the gift of suffering is your
damnation by a Calcutta
saint dancing to Lucifer’s
tune, your sores unhealed,
or the only hope of ransom;
there is a way, several to be
clear, for therein lies the
game – and a game it is,
competing for titles, pews
it’s yours to refuse the
triviality of sin, accusation
as the easy way, to refuse
Augustine while he still
damns from Monica’s shadow
above his child’s grave;
making home, not finding it,
will be the only consolation
offered here, and it is the
same for love and mercy
and joy and the peace so
desperately missing today.

If I could dream I would…

boy_dreaming_blue_by_intao-d5b88u4When I dream, it’s about dreaming.

 

They Say If You Dream

Escaping what is, and therefore
what’s painful, is what dreaming
                                    is for.

Not day-dreaming, but submersing
yourself with the goal of never coming
                                    back

 which may lead to slipping into that world,
   the alternative of someone’s making,
                                                forever;

 where things are different and that’s
all that matters – whether out of
                        boredom or

shyness or fear or pain (but pain
usually wins in the end), or blindness
                                                to life;

   they say if you dream, 

maybe this can happen, but it never has,
   not by trying, not by praying, not in
                                    my lifetime.

 

My Gravity

I was awakened from a dream,
a dream about me – they’re always
about me it seems as the axis
of the world is under my feet,
all eyes turn to me, all words
are said for me as if pulled by
my gravity, and yet I never speak,
never a word, as space shrinks
close and closer, faces approach,
the ground and sky too come
to me, and just as it is all to be
enveloped in me as a fold
I wake, and I speak but no one
hears me, the sky opens forever
and forever away, familiar
faces withdraw, turning
carelessly, no calling stops them,
no motion halts the sky, I’m
being spun by the pull of true
gravity and lean back into
myself just to keep from falling.

Prayer, and other ways to cry…

prayer-blocksHow many sayings about prayer have you heard?

Sayings like: We should pray to live, but live to pray. (Kind of hate that one.)

Prayer changes things. (Or it’s opposite: Prayer doesn’t change things, it changes the person who prays.)

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools. (The culture wars are good for pissed-off prayer quips.)

Prayer is not talking, it is listening. (Wow, that’s deep – too deep for words.)

Prayer requests should become our to-do list. (i.e. Get up and do something.)

Prayer is a steering wheel, not a spare tire. (Guilt reigns supreme, even in prayer.)

There is no such thing as too much prayer. (Except when dinner’s getting cold.)

The irony, of course, is that all the sermons and sayings about prayer are sermons and sayings and not prayer.

But poetry and prayer are closer than siblings.

Two Kinds
There are two kinds of prayers prayed
at the end of each and every day,
one from the naive filled with hope
on hope on top of hope of tomorrows
that will always come and keep coming,
forgiveness is similarly unending,
and everyone and everything will be
there because it can’t be any other way;
the other is for mercy with revenge
or some karma (if that’s on the table),
maybe no tomorrow if it’s the same
as today and yesterday and yesterdays
that chase them deep into the night,
while dust crumbles back to dust
and there is no more pride. Amen.

Careening Through Life
Do trees cast off their leaves,
eager to be free of those parasites
drawing more than they offer;
do they cure and fall themselves
as birds leave nests never to return again;
or is there a romantic but exhausted grasp
which simply but reluctantly
fails in the cold of November?
Do the vivid colors of toys
cling to pathways cossetted in the
soft tissue of my memory;
a red fire truck of tin metal
and sharp edges that cut
my tender fingers as I played
the role of rescuer in the midst of
a horrible blaze; and what of the smell
of Mom’s cookies – unmistakable
and gone forever except in words
put together in strings
without sentences; is there a way back
to those sunny afternoons
with powdered sugar floating in the air
and me praying for a broken sample?

When It Rains
It’s raining on the prairie, but not in answer to prayer
as we huddle inside a dusty museum wondering
at the recreation of a settler’s life, determined by
weather and wind and rain on the cut fields of earth;
if we shiver in a sudden summer storm and wonder
at the musky air it’s best to recall that people died
here – in this room probably, because they did
everything in this one, dark room – but we can’t
wait for the storm to end and go on with our fun.

Drowning in religion and life and religion…

Drowning (1)The sensation of drowning can be just a real in dreams and fantasies as it is in water (or so I tell myself). By ‘sensations’ I mean life, living, and/or the general state of being aware. By ‘dreams’ and ‘fantasies’ I mean exactly the same thing.

The ‘drowning’ part is just a graphic way of saying ‘overwhelmed’ or beyond relief. It may or may not be conquered – a lesson half-learned from William O. Douglas, Of Men and Mountains – https://archive.org/stream/ofmenandmountain000038mbp#page/n117/mode/2up – insert ‘religion’ for wilderness, fear, society or law). By the way, Douglas narrates the sensation of drowning in such vivid detail, I find myself kicking my legs in sympathy as I re-read the chapter, Deep Water.

That ‘religion’ would be referenced does not mean that I’m complaining about the intractable nature of such fantasy (Freud), but rather the overwhelmingly inescapable heavy hand of the thing others call religion (as in, being incurably religious).

That’s enough then… for now…

Help Me, I’m Drowning

Help me, I’m drowning
in a shallow pool of witticism,
slogans capturing paranoia of
the other, this jingoism without
cloaks reinforces the lowest of
common fears, and heads nod
in faith’s assent bravely denying
all that’s true in favor of Truth
unchanging, everywhere and
always for all; now we’re
instructed to repeat a word,
Impossible, say it, again, Im
poss-i-ble; impossible not to
have it any other way; and
I’m drowning and cry out
for help – I’m in the second
pew from the back on the
right – please hurry.

 

Critical

Aroused at meridian to a brilliant dismay,
mentation unfettered from eremitic seclusion,
banishing juvenile primum non nocere,
no longer pursuing the illusory conclusion.

Analogies abound in the world of intension,
reference revered in the present symbolic,
authors contest with readers’ intervention,
creating the occasion of receptive frolic.

Burrow wide and well in channel virginal,
render again and anew the company kept,
embrace untried manners regarded novel,
sequestering fantasy and religion except.

Construed for current contentment,
the extant subscriber seeks to narrate
hermetic theft  of meaning’s attendant
tomorrow’s uncertainty day gestate.

 

God’s Friend

I forgive myself for being human,
just as I have God for being God;
birth is no defect, no dimness of lumen,
just being’s not worthy of saying flawed;

no longer do I demand, no longer cry for
life without what makes it more trying,
if Job could argue and Moses invite more
I’ll gladly enjoy joy as well as my crying;

without blaming God for my deflection
I now in turn say the same of myself,
forgetting, remembering all affection,
and taking sin’s mirror off every shelf;

no need for theodicy’s happy fault,
no tale from which a good God is saved
Great Oz needs no defending assault
and I’ve no need to be so enslaved;

the solution lies in refusing the priest
who demands to be needed at worst,
divinity needs no dark cultic feast
if redemption’s a grace not coerced;

this forgiving means religion’s dead,
or at least it’s tottering to an end,
no lack of efforts to supply its sted
but I now am surely God’s friend.