Praying

sometimes I start out praying

on my knees

eyes closed and dry

elbows on the bed

fingers locked and still

head even-keeled

my whole body piously symmetrical

the Thank You For The Food kind of praying

the In Jesus’ Name Amen kind of praying

praying in a posture I can get behind

 

what happens next happens slowly

an arm lies down

a forehead seeking shelter

eyes open in the blanket

legs crossed or bouncing

a shoulder blade protruding

my body wondering who’s listening

the Please Have Mercy On Me kind of praying

the I Don’t Know If I Can Do This kind of praying

whispering my sins into the mattress

 

sometimes I end up praying

on my bed

eyes closed and wet

hands above my head

fists in the pillow

legs at awkward angle

my whole body in desperate display

the Oh Father Father Father kind of praying

the No More Words Just Needs kind of praying

falling into everlasting arms and sleeping

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Split Custody

I left home last night

And got home this morning.

Te digo que llegué a casa por fin. 

Back home it was raining in the chilly black air;

Here at home it’s humid with an endless blue ceiling.

Tal vez la humedad me hace bien después de ese invierno de castigo.

The manner of speaking is musical;

It’s got a lilt you’d have to know to listen for.

Es que noo-mbre, pucha vos, ya llegastes, gracias a Dios.

The lilt that is the song stuck in my head when I’m home;

I can’t stop myself from parroting.

Hasta mis amigos mexicanos me dicen que hablo igual a ustedes.

It’s like split custody, and you love them both;

They just take care of you different.

Dos países, dos padres, que me cuidan bien.

 

Needs

Her love for God is that of a desperate man;

     she worries what would happen with her needs met.

The problem isn’t the landscape, it’s the line;

     this city is too falsely modest for her.

No one refers to her as a nice lady;

     she is violently kind in a womanly way.

Children speculate about what’s in her purse;

     friends see hammered rhymes and cover art in there.

The problem isn’t the sacred, it’s the saint;

     the bread and wine go down like forty proof gin.

Her love for God is that of a dying thief;

     she wonders what would happen with her needs met.

Still There

I was hoping for a rainy Sunday, or a federal Monday

for some quiet hum or a morning in bed

for a reposed window seat or a walk down the sidewalk

where no other feet are feeling their way about.

I was putting stock in a change of pace to decrease my heartrate

running is good for the vessel but bad for the blood.

I was counting on a breath of air to refresh my mental state

A/C is good for the clothing but bad for the skin.

I was wanting to go out, or in.

I was hoping for a change of something,

for a change of something,

for a change

in general.

I was trusting in a change of something.

 

Then I got a day off,

and it rained,

and I stayed in bed all day,

and I was still there.

Biting Your Tongue

You don’t indulge me and for that I should be grateful.

I sometimes feel like an overly eager pet, tending to overwhelm newcomers with nearly violent affection and pleading for love, benefiting greatly from the restraint of its owner. I’m still an angst-filled child at heart, so afflicted with imaginary turmoil…

Afflicted with imaginary turmoil,
Abandoned in an un-mandated exile,
Distracted by the products of the epoch,
Distrusting of the motives ‘neath the get-up.

If only I could obscure it all in figurative expression. I find emotional thought mediated by symbolism much more comfortable than the immediacy that happens when I admit to you what it was I wanted to say, before I remembered to catch myself. Well, ‘remembered’ isn’t the right word, because it’s instinct now, not thought: an ancestral fear that my confessions won’t be well-received. For good reason. Have you ever detoured through the shanty towns on the internet’s outskirts, where the bad confessional poets try to console each other with bad rhymes and bad ideas, like the meth-infested small towns of the Rust Belt?

The darkness is my only friend,
And won’t you call me back again?

Get through there quick, it’s not pretty. The ugly part of the highway between sexier cities. Thus I feel right about biting my tongue, and you’re right in your lack of indulgence.

Biting your tongue, got a mouth full of blood
And they ask you what it is you’re thinking of.
Bad jokes, that’s it, move on, get a grip —
Don’t let them know that you’re fading away.
Chances are they’ll let the moment dissipate (instead).

But these are such tired moments. I know you think so too. I’ve got to either say it or get over it. Blood in the mouth has got to be spit out or swallowed; otherwise it stains your teeth and metallicizes everything. Rambunctious pets have got to be loved on or trained out of it, lest they jump on the folks at the door. Either hear me out sympathetically or call me out for acting pathetically…

While my pathos competes with your logos
and your ego competes with my id,
then my pneuma will duel with your psyche
till you meta find out what I did…

Ah, dear. Once again I longed for originality, only to find I was a product of my age.

Death Died (Holy Week)

Easter 2015

I. Monday.

Most deaths quake the earth of at least one little person.

Death shakes humans up and we’re never ready for him.

If your mother dies, then a part of you dies with her.

Cruel, unnatural is her cold, immobile body.

Don’t get used to it. It’s wrong and awful. Shocking.

 

II. Friday.

One death quaked the earth, and the sun switched off for hours.

Time stopped, nothing was; just a young man and his father.

If your child dies, then a part of you dies with him.

“This is all there is”; so it’s merely weak, pathetic.

But I have to ask, why aren’t we more OK with it?

 

III. Sunday.

Death died, so did I. On that day, I gave up fighting.

At dawn, later on, something broke to let the light in.

Life lived once again and it changed this world we die in.

Sunday, on its way, though it’s nighttime watch for us now;

Stay up, wait with me, while we stand on this quaking ground.

Plans

My plans are wilting, petal by petal.

I never should have planted them in you.

Perhaps you were a seasonal soil

not meant to host a plunging root.

I thought your garden was eternal,

and that my plans were bearing fruit;

but we were becoming autumnal.

Winter was but coming soon.

 

Now wilting, withering, shrinking some,

less flowered and with duller shading,

my plans need help from the green thumb;

if something’s growing, something’s fading.

There’s strong temptation to succumb

to frost; these winter winds are blazing.

Yet I’ve been told of kingdom come

and gardens made for re-creating.

 

I’m all uprooted, dangling, vulnerable,

still waiting for that other garden;

meanwhile, blooming, flourishing, comfortable,

your plans grow up, your roots dig in.

It’s good. In fact, I know it’s beautiful,

this fertile ground that you’ve been given.

My plans are wilting, slow, unnoticeable,

but from their death, new life is rising.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

Sexual Ethics

With nothing in the highest, we are gods

unto ourselves; do you know how that will go?

We are a generation without sexual ethics

and it’s been devastating to everyone I know.

 

“Go forth and explore!

Proudly propagate your void, with your friends

and some people who don’t know your shoe size.

Don’t worry about the wonder or the weight of power.

Nothing matters but the element of surprise.

Be unafraid to let it in!

Someone else’s anxious, greedy, steaming cauldron

will not spill as you’re knocking yours into it.

A little stain won’t kill you, and time will wash it out.

The potion smells sweet, so if you want it, brew it.

If it makes you happy!

That’s logic not undone by shame or conscience

or some religious dogma of what gives you humanity.

That’s freedom to be enslaved if you so choose

and every chance to be toy, tool, or commodity.”

 

But in truth we’re neither gods, beasts, nor machines.

We’re merely fragile children with more room to grow.

We are a generation needy for sexual ethics

and the healing it would do in everyone I know.

What We’re Made Of

Christmas 2014: Genesis 2:7, Philippians 2:6-7

I. Physicality.
Watching a toothless child fall asleep still attached to a woman’s naked breast;
His tongue stuck to the bottom of his mouth and perpetual drool wetting his chin;
Their sweat mixing with mine in a hug that sticks us together, and the taste of salt;
Pain in the bathroom and shifting in our seats as we smell the shame of it from here;
Jesus’ stomach growling on the beach, waiting for the fish to roast, breathing in the smoke.
Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground.

II. Spirituality.
Watching a child decide to retreat from the war being mongered on the playground;
His distress as the invisible duel between his conscience and his pride starts to hurt;
A callow heart aching for love in a darkness disrupted only by a flashing cell phone light;
Early morning efforts to conduct the train of thought and launch it off the heavy ground;
Jesus’ joy when he considers God’s humility and its poetry over top our arrogant noise.
And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

III. Humanity.
Watching embodied spirits try not to lose control at each other in an overly silent room;
The competing emotions manifested in the moving muscles and the audible breaths;
A sweaty embrace soaked through with loyalty and the smell of a friendship that understands;
The clenched hands of pain, of desire, of anger or fear, and the commonalities there;
Jesus dying slowly with forgiveness on his tongue and a bad taste in his mouth.
And the man became a living being.

I Remember You And Suddenly

Sometimes late at night my roommate goes to bed.
Still awake above her, I’m warm, safe, and well-fed;
But fears shimmy up me from my belly to my head.

They pause there long enough to make my eyes wet,
Pressing repeat on bad ideas I’d rather forget.
In the quiet dark my balancing act is quietly upset.

But I remember you and suddenly I’m less likely to cry.

Sometimes in a room full of voices I cannot be heard.
Even with my organized thoughts, no one hears a word.
Everything I’m fearing, I guess, must be absurd.

Defeat shimmies down me from my chest to my pit.
In the middle of my body I can’t shake the weight of it,
But if it shoots out of my mouth, then I’m the hypocrite.

So I remember you and suddenly I’m less likely to yell.

At times I’ve lost my cool and given up the ghost.
Grief like television keeps my mind engrossed
And blank to the world outside, to what I owe the most.

A whirlpool of introspection drags me down into
Vague trepidation towards what comes out of the blue.
Cowardly doubt rains on me and starts to soak me through.

Yet I remember you and suddenly I’m less likely to drown.

The world outside threatens to kill, infect, or maim.
The world inside me is prone to more of the same.
My silent killers are tyrant gods like money, sex, fame.

Nothing cures what ails me like the memory of you.
“In remembrance of me” does what other gods don’t do:
Takes these dying insides and gives them life anew.

So I remember you and suddenly I’m less likely to die.
I remember you and suddenly I’m more alive.