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.

 

 

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Words are good enough for me…

words2Words are good enough for me…

Living this way is more than a creed – it’s like air to the lungs… like air to my lungs. But bad words – the bad use of words – seems pure evil to me, and I can’t get beyond it (that’s my burden to live with, or die with).

Words are good enough for me, so I play with them.

Words are good enough for me, so I let them play with me.

Words are good enough for me…

Workman by Day
A nobody to professors, a workman by day
this subtlety 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 to contemplate
the nightmares of failures and adult scares
which only verse hides what sunlight chides.

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.

And I Quote
What is a quote to be quoted
and to whom does it belong?
those marks somehow borrow
what I wish was my song;
what I want as my own
but someone found before,
almost perfect way of words
I must have, and I adore;
sometimes because of who
but I prefer what is said,
the world is but objects,
not facts’ means instead;
picture what is or is not,
but what is written is read
stop asking what it means
or you’ll always be misled;
while I will quote as I wish
call me a plagiarist as well
all’s words and other words
not things we jsut misspell.

 

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.

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.

Jesus is looking for me for some reason…

388089281f54b1fcdc489fd76080f8c3Ninety-Nine and One Hundred
There are one hundred things I wish to do
but ninety-nine I never will it seems; they’re
not dreams so much as wishes and urges,
conscious and clear, not fantasies at all;
they’re real, as real as life and air and my
beating heart, and they’re mine – all mine
because no one else could do what I wish
to do, or would want to it seems. Not all – just
some – would admit such things; frustrations
and hopeless hopes are what the ninety-nine
are to others and the one done – the one
done over and over again – becomes routine,
monotony the others call real, ordinary, life.

Jesus left the ninety-and-nine to search for
the one, in some twisted appeal to his
everyone is important, everyone matters,
everyone gets a trophy gospel of me,
myself and I that numbers hairs, dresses
flowers better than Solomon, and offers
funerals for every sparrow that succumbs,
while the boring ninety-and-nine never leave
home, never leave each other, never explore,
never risk, never have anything to regret,
never live; like the prodigal’s older brother
who wanted a fatted calf for – what, staying
home and never returning to life in his
father’s eyes?! There is no fatted calf for
never trying, never dying, never living again.

You’ll Soon Be Dead
Buying a scale won’t make you lose and weight,
like owning a treadmill won’t make you an eight;
and those fitness magazines sure aren’t evangelism
that will magically transform your sluggish metabolism;
of course, it’s all in your genetic predisposition
and eating because of an unhappiness mission;
and the drive of snacking out of life’s painful boredom
requires one to super-size every single portion;
so regardless of what your doctor always said,
it’s just the way you are and you’ll soon be dead.

The name of God and other fantasies…

dewey-melvil2

Melvil Dewey (a.k.a. God)

I come from traditions (yes, plural – traditions) where it is blasphemy to dream God.

This is my blasphemy.

God’s Name is Melvil
It’s Melvil who divided up
everything that could ever be known,
dreamed, recorded, or wished in just
ten—Pythagorean ways
of perfection;
all because he thought it better than
organizing books by size and color
and memorizing
which nook or cranny
a certain volume was hidden,
stupidly saying
a child walked on water
because he didn’t know he couldn’t;
that was either religion (because
some believe what can’t be),
philosophy (because what kind of
world thinks this impossibility),
arts (because some will
depict anything that frustrates
reason), or literature (because no
one cares it if is so); and
this is why God’s name is now
Melvil Dewey.

Time to be God
Imagine the day begins where it ends
and winds backwards from there
with every new thing not new at all,
there are no novelties, inventiveness
is absent, second guessing overwhelms
every surprise, every moment, every
joy. Some say that’s the way God
sees us, the world – everything;
all immediately present and nothing
new, but perfect hindsight
ahead of and behind and all around
all that could ever be. That doesn’t
seem like it would be fun, and I wouldn’t
wish it that way, even if I were God.

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 stead
but I now am surely God’s friend.

 

 

How to…

time lifeIt dates back to the 1960s and a Time Life series of ‘how to’ books which became wildly popular – how to unclog a drain, hammer a nail, fix a squeaky door hinge, install a garbage disposal, build a deck. And we bought them all. The How-To craze had begun and we were all for it.

Soon ‘how to’ became self-help and do-it-yourself merged with challenges, campaigns and that e-mail spam which promises everything from a firmer butt to millions from an African royal official (if we share our bank information).

There are tens of thousands of books with ‘How to’ in the title. Many are still concerned with good, old fashioned repairs like repairing a Briggs and Stratton engine, but most are about how to do more ordinary, everyday things like live better, accomplish more, sleep sounder or organize everything.

Today we call ‘how to’ the promised land of a #lifehack.

We’re not talking about becoming experts in life, maybe on life and that’s what’s become of us. What we’re all after is sensible enough. It’s where we all get to eventually, some later than others but everyone eventually…we’re all trying to survive life. ‘How-to’ stuff isn’t much about electric current or refrigeration repair. It is more about reconfiguring spaces, reclaiming your days, weekends, weeks and thereby reclaiming yourself. And the best part is that it doesn’t matter if what you wind up with doesn’t even come close to a certain plan, a received design or perceived goal. The activity itself is open-ended and prohibits failure (the only failure is not to have tried at all). If schools without failure are simply those institutions of baby-sitting we used to call colleges and universities, then ‘how-to’ and ‘for dummies’ literature is for a life without failure where the only disappointment is going through life without trying to be your real self (whatever the hell that may be).

How-to books used to be called novels and reading narratives was how most people learned how they might live, how to avoid ruin and peril and despair, how they might survive hard times with nobility and virtue intact, how to do well and how to do better. When narratives and fictions were done poorly they generalized and moralized as directly and bluntly as a step-by-step guide to multiple male orgasms. History books are no better with their god-like noble-izing about why everything happened the way it did (Monday morning quarterbacking and 20/20 hindsight never enjoyed as great an academic justification as history classes). Even history must give way to genealogy; just as poor novels must yield to healthy (and sometimes hard to follow) narratives. In our present climate of reading it has become too hard, too difficult, to novelize and narrate one’s life or to learn from someone else’s life because a story doesn’t prepare a plan for us. If the motto of how-to-ing is measure twice, cut once, then the moral of (good) novels is keep measuring, cut often, and try measuring once just for the thrill of it once-in-a-while. The suspicion from how-to-ers is, of course, that narratives keep measuring and never get to the cutting.

To Be Read S L O W L Y

Don’t you hate
being told how to
read, how to enjoy,
how to be you; it’s like
being told how to
breathe or piss,
both as necessary
and both problematic
eventually, so do
try not to hate
being told to do
the things we will
forget one day soon.

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.

It is what it is (and other lies they tell us)…

Doris DayYes, it’s a lie. Always has been, always will be.

It is what it is.

That’s the lie.

It’s used to give up. To teach us to give up. Accept and not except. Let go to get by.

It’s called providence or sovereignty or fate or determinism or the status quo or City Hall or Que Sera, Sera (if you’re Doris Day – which I’m not).

It’s called the Serenity Prayer (if you’re Reinhold Niebuhr).

It’s called history and what is is what had to be (if you’re Augustine of Hippo).

It’s called metanarrative (if you’re any kind of modernist – and that’s just about everybody these days, as amazing as that sounds).

And it’s a lie. Always has been, always will be.

It Is What It Is
Starting a new religion usually takes effort,
not necessarily consistency, proof or fact,
just data and anecdotes, which means
listening and creating at the same time;
it’s an interpretive exercise most ignore
because of the difficulty of thinking anew,
and we’re really driven by insecurity and
the need for followers, but not this one;
it won’t matter if a single soul converts,
nothing will change if everyone changes,
because whatever happens will happen
in the new religion of it is what it is.