Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Poem: The dark

I fear it's the same as in the old days
Do Jamaican parents still delight in terrorizing their children?

I'd like to forgive it
to say that my mother and her siblings were country folk
so as they laughed like idiots
at making their children tremble in fear
they were ignorant --
not aware that they were building a cavern of fear in our souls.

It's hard, though.

I can forgive the lies they told.
Yes, they were conscienceless in the way they
told self-serving stories to keep their children in line.
I can forgive that.

I can forgive their beatings
and the belts they named:
Stinger with its metal-tip,
Scorpion with its cruel sting.
I can forgive that.

Because they were country folks 
and whuppin was what they did cause they loved you
and wanted to set you on the right path.

But the fear and trembling I strive to forgive.

Because there was spite in their cruel power
when they told us of cruel ghosts inhabiting the dark
when they lay in wait behind walls -- belts in hand-- ready to strike
when they told us what happened to little girls
who do not listen to their mothers and who did not wipe their hands properly

because they had such petty joy in creating terror in us,
because surely there was some other way to make themselves powerful in their own eyes --
other than stampeding kids' hearts.

Because even now the cavern of fear they built inside me
is still operational
when the phone rings
when the mailman comes
when I feel some sudden change in my body.

Because these are seeds 
my mother, aunts, and uncles planted in me
and all that terror
all that fear
is still ingrained
and ever blossoming in me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Poem: Spin

I'm not wise enough

or insightful enough

to see beyond

the web of the cultural narratives

being spun above ny head!

I cannot push an envelope

if I'm unaware of its size

or go outside a box

if I don't know its shape

but I'm wary of

how certain stories are framed --




I cannot, will not, challenge.

I wouldn't know where to begin.

Nor am I particularly argumentative...

but yes,


I suspect Spin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

poem: the ones who bring us joy

In the sermon of an ancient writer, a Puritan,

we are commanded

always to pray

for those who entertain us:

the lovely, the witty, the beautiful.

For they give us joy, he said.

It's true.

We use them.

Their wit, their prettiness.

Then we go on our way.

There is someone, very lovely,

beautiful to look at,

whom I have loved.

He lives in my daydreams

and sexual fantasies.

An object.

And I must rememdy this.

Because the beautiful are not made

to inhabit my fantasies.

They live and breathe and grieve and fear.

So, yes, beginning today

I will begin to pray for this person

this lovely beauty

who has

for six months

been my object of desire,

my  desired


Monday, August 11, 2014

Poem: The nakedness and helplessness of sleep

And nightly,

the nakedness and helplessness of sleep


shed ourselves of clothes and fears.

lying in bed

blankets our only cover. . .

we unarm ourselves of

day's vigilance. . .

our eyes and ears

put away

like sentries removed from duty.

letting go

of self-care. . .

trusting that we're


into invisible but capable Arms.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I must learn this

A writer friend I greatly helped and whom I taught has betrayed me. She who I introduced to editors and publishers and whose work I pored over to help her perfect it. She is the one who has betrayed me.

I see her work everywhere now, in anthologies and on websites; Her name is praised on the lips of friends who know nothing of our falling-out. I must keep silent. It's the way of the world. To speak up against her would be considered bad form...perhaps even petty. So the thing will go unknown, and she will continue to use and break more hearts and backs.

The world is full of injustice but I remind myself that it is also full of grace. I'm glad of this grace--this world where undeserved favor flows out from God without care for holiness.

"Solomon wrote that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong or bread to the wise nor riches to men of understanding but time and chance happens to them all."... I've been blessed in many ways that I honestly don't deserve. So, all Praises to our gracious God.

I must try to see clear..that I may clear my heart from this bitterness. The world is full of false friends and smooth betrayers who have convinced themselves that all we have is rightly theirs.

Therefore -- with regards to grace-- we are like them, and they are like us.

They, like us, have received stuff we do not deserve...while others more talented, holy, wiser than we are have been shafted. It's a shame. But we humans like the idea of worth and deserving. So then I can praise (when the grace is toward me) and weep (when grace is shown toward cruel and heartless people) at unfairness of life, all the time resisting the urge to belittle the undeserving, the lucky, or the blessed. I must learn this.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Impossible Dreaming

Some impossible dreams are hard to even imagine. My mind literally cannot imagine them. And then there are the impossible dreams that can be imagined, walked in, revisited. At nights, I revisit mental worlds I've made. Whether the imagined world was created for a story or as a nighttime sexual fantasy or was born in regret, a might-have-been shoulda-coulda parallel life.

These wishes and daydreams play so easily across my mind's eye. They are so solid that I can enter and leave them at any time, at will. Because they have been my parallel life for so long and are so inhabited and lived in. The strange thing is that these fantasies are utterly, utterly impossible. In them I am usually young and thin, healthy and unencumbered by anything from my so-called "real" life. And even those daydreams in which I allow my present self to roam old and fat, the task of entering the daydream of the alternate reality is eerily easy.Yet I don't expect to see these dreams manifest any time in my life. Because parallel lives are only possible in the mental world, and turmnng back time in order to choose a different life...is not something our physicists have much power over. I may believe in string theory and multiverses but this particular me is physicially locked inside this particular universe on this unchangeable irrevocable path.  The everpresent God alone is capable of being and doing in the simultaneous past, future, and present.

There are impossible dreams thar I cannot even imagine, though. At those times, it's as if my mind cannot, for instance, release itself from the actual to dare to dream or imagine better things. Try as I might, I cannot see myself well. I cannot see my son well. Even to daydream...my mind balks.  

I sit on my bed and attempt the What-if? Game. What if I were suddenly well? What if my son could talk and suddenly stopped being sickly? What would I do? I try to imagine us bicycling through the town together. I can't do it. I try to imagine him speaking. I can't do it. Whch is strange. I have spent hours in bed daydreaming of parallel lives, of incidents and people who do not exist...of people who do exist but who would never love me...of strange speculative fiction worlds far from earth. I know those strange impossibilities so well.

But to have faith ..to hope for some possible good..some possible outcome of a longstanding prayer...no, my mind cannot conceive, cannot sow, cannot plant, cannot water..such thoughts.

I'm thinking of a sweepstakes in college and a friend who wanted a blender, the second prize. The first prize was a bicycle. This friend simply decided that she would pray for the blender then believe she had received it. Pics of the blender were all over her house. She talked about where she should put "her" blender. The day of the sweepstakes, all the entrants were in the college hall. Before the winning name was announced for the blender, my friend had already risen from her seat and was walking to receive it. Of course she won the blender! The universe had gotten the word that it was aready hers. Her mind and the blender had become one in God's mind. I've had two other friends lilke that...folks who simply believe that good will come to them because God is taking of them...folks who are constantly winning sweepstakes, getting gifts, lucking out, riding serendipity and coincidences.  

Is this why hope is called a discipline by the saints? Must we train ourselves to daydream good things? Must we gather all our mental strength to simply believe we are loved and made to receive good from a universe with a kind-heart at its center? Is that what the greatest battle of faith is? To trust in a God who has created a world where good flows naturally..if we can only rest in that flow? 

St Paul encourages us to have useful imaginations. But how easy has it been for me to train my imagination to ponder worlds and events that cannot happen...yet to have no skill or discipline to dream that things in this actual world will get better.  Can I attain to the renewal of my imagination and my mind ...even now? Can I learn to sit still and to imagine the far-fetched coming true in actuality? Can I own the skill of willfully erasing all the negative images my pessimistic fears have painted? 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Poem: Sunflowers in Fall


and along the pathway,

the tall once-sturdy sunflowers slump

like weary veterans of some cosmic war.

Some, beheaded in summer,

still seem to beckon to passersby.

Others with drooped heads

seem to mourn their decapitated comrades.


its stem bent twisted because of

so many twistings

and battles against poles and fences that hid the sun,

looks up at the others

like an arthritic pacifist

who stayed on the homefront avoiding war

yet who nevertheless...

is haunted by it. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Like sheep having no shepherd

Every now and then the power of this imagery just grabs me viscerally...the whole lost sheep metaphor for lost humanity.

Thig is, so many Christians think of a lost sheep as someone who is confused about right and wrong. Thus, after they get saved, they don't feel like lost sheep anymore because they now "know" what is right and are now on the "right" path.  Other than this being very close to legalism, there is another problem: the fullness of the metaphor is so shrunk and minimized to mean "goodness" that much of the whole existential sorrow of the metaphor is "lost."

The plain fact is that even when we are no longer "lost" in sin, we are still lost in the world.

The Bible states: "It is not in man who walks to direct his steps." This verse implies that a person is on a path, but even then...we need One who has a larger view of life, time, earth, everything, stuff...to direct us.

Other verses tell us: There is a way that seems right to a man but the end of that way is death.
And: Lean not to your own understanding.

The picture God gives us of humans is a pitiful one; sheep running hear and there, listening to the wrong shepherds, drinking from dirty water, sheep being pitifully confused.

When one looks at the food industry and the health industry for instance, one sees how pitiful human rationale thought, human comprehension, human history all are. With each generation new "progress" is made which is supposedly an advance in knowledge. Then the great minds of the following decades refute that earlier wisdom.

So in one generation we are told to avoid natural fats like butter and coconut oil and to eat carbs primarily and margarine and trans-fats. Then after all the sheep have followed this worldly wisdom, suddenly...we are told to eat fats again.

Or, one generation is told to always wear sunscreen and to avoid the sun. Then a later generation of scientists tell us that although the sun "damages" the skin, there really is no link between excess sun exposure and skin cancer...in fact, say these doctors, it looks asthough the folks who get skin cancers get them mostly in areas that rarely get touched by the sun...and people who use sunscreen have the highest rate of skin cancer. One generation says never remove a mold; it might be a melanoma and spread. The next generation says to remove it. One generation says heal epileptic seizures by removing grains, another generation says heal seizures by invasive brain surgery, another generation comes and says heal them by medication, then aother generation says heal them by removing grains. One generation says lobotomize depressed people. Another generation says use anti-depressants, then another generation says use anti-depressants but beware that they can make you suicidal.

This sheep confusion doesn't only affect individual lives but also the life of the earth. One decade, animals/fish/insects are relocated to a new region in order to balance some problem or other. Then two or three decades later, the scientists are bewailing that self-same relocation.

Trusting in human thought is a dangerous thing. We can try our best but we must always be aware that we simply do not know...and indeed, the folks who have created some of the worst disasters (economic, tribal, racial, medical, climatic, etc, etc, etc, ) have been "the great minds of our generation." It's scary to think that not only can we not trust our own minds, but we should be very wary of human reasoning and the many rumors of war (or propaganda) being told to us in the many spiritual,, natural, scientific, medical wars on this earth. We who live at the end of time should also be very aware of the many deceptions, lies, statistics, half-truths, false truths that exist in the media, the churches, the health system, the government, etc. We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves because our Lord told us "this world cannot receive truth."

God's directions generally do not make sense to the rational human mind. Heck, some of the most spiritual people have wasted so much of their time "understanding" the Bible with their rationalistic minds that they have lost their way.

Human rational thinking fails us, but so does human emotion. All we have left is a purified, sanctified, restored, glorified human intuition. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord and the word of the Lord is a lamp to our feet. We have to understand when God is speaking to us. Whether by coincidence, dreams, or visions. We will hear a word in our heart that says, "This is the way...walk ye in it."

Remember: The Lord had compassion upon the people because he saw them as sheep having no shepherd.

God is not going to be angry with us because we feel idiotic and because we are confused about doing the right thing. He has great compassion. He understands our lives; he knows that we are dust and that we are blown about by every wind of doctrine and every new philosophy or science falsely-so-called that clutters our path.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Crone Poem #5

Empty of flowers,

Overgrown with weeds,

the untended garden is calling to me.

It's mid-summer, though;

Too late to tend it? 

The garden of my body is calling to me.

Am almost sixty;

The stalks sag, the flowers fade.

Weeds are already embedded

Why hope to uproot them?

You've got to die of something.  

The garden of my mind is calling to me.

Overgrown with projects, the soil needs sifting.

Yet new seeds appear, taunting, promising...

Am too busy with old crops to work new ones.

But, my mind, why encourage new growth?

The garden of my soul is calling to me.

Night is falling.

Winter's coming.

Plant only those seeds that will endure.

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