Friday, June 24, 2011

Hebrews 9:22

Blood makes black things white,
but white things without blood become
black, or, at best, yellow or gray. This is not myth.
It is not even the law, weak and useless,
that became obsolete. It's a principle built in the nature of things
now, like the spectrum displayed by the sun’s waves when it sets
and the distance of balanced push-and-pull between the stars.
There is one way to make living black clean
and that is with death.

Hebrews 6:7

I promised the wheat seed. I said: Wheat seed,
I know you don’t know me well. But I’m here
to help you be wheat. But if you don’t believe me and

don’t break open and let everything
inside you spring open
you’ll die. Thistle and weeds will take over
your home and in the end, flames
will not notice you, hiding withered alone.

Little wheat seed, believe me. And when the rain comes,
drink, drink and trust—and if it stops,
remember my word: Yes you’ll drink again.
Wait for me. Keep springing up.

Hebrews 3:6

We who labor have waited long.
The architect
had us build the future into the walls
of this widening place,

or so the elders among us,
whose grandparents had grandparents
die in the desert, have said.
All we see is symbols:

a basket, a baby,
doves, snakes and pomegranates.
We who labor have waited long. Lord,
when will you fill it with life, this hollow house?


I don’t like cake
especially birthday cake
but there was a big one sitting on the counter
in a glass pan.

Thinking about self-discipline
and the grace of God
I hacked a big pink slice with a butterknife.
It wasn’t anyone’s birthday.

I kind of wish I’d had a glass of water instead
or milk.
Sprinkles don’t excite me
as much as they should.


You’re my Amen,
my Yes-God-let-it-be-so, Truth-

A Thought About Arches

Some time ago, women caught on
that men prefer hairlessness in their mate.
(I confirmed this with Wikipedia,
which cited a study.)
Today this awareness takes multiple forms,
including the reduction of eyebrows
to pencil-drawn mountain silhouettes.

Trade Life for the Death I Lived

You open your mouth and meaning comes out.
Not metaphorically,
the way I do,
the way I’m doing now—no, but the way
that the stars I mean by saying stars
are stars: that’s how you make them.
You spoke. Are speaking.

They say truth is our private meaning-making.
They haven’t read your poetry.
Here, here; an aching here:

You have light the way I have disaster:
endless forms.
You are love the way I am wanting.
And you say I Am; here is truth, here beauty
the way chaos speaks me.
You call me beloved; I call out

I Told People They Were Sinners

It didn’t incite them to anger or anything,
really. There are many ways to hate God.
I think the least of them is holding Him
responsible, because at least
that’s a kind of response.


My childhood was a haunted house
and college a hall of mirrors
so I left them
behind, but this body
is a movie theater
with one reel
and locked doors.


Collect the fame of a million celebrated men;
turn it into string and roll it out
to measure.
Is it long enough
to reach the core of our earth
and make it shudder?
Can it wrap around one
burning star and make it bow?
I know the man everything
above beneath and around
us celebrates,
thrilling to the core to see and hear.

Gather it up:

the seconds in the collective
hours of the last day spent by every example
of humankind wasted
on fearing each other, like

little pieces of mirror breaking
again at the sight of themselves in other
little pieces of mirror.

How heavy are you now?
Can you walk to the water’s edge without
cutting yourself or dropping
all of us?

We dye our hair blonde and then red and brunette but remember:

don’t forget how to scream. We’re
uneasy, too bliss-battered
to care. See me? In your eye
full of cigarrettes and things like that,
names I forget. When it’s all
said and. Done.
It all. We’re


he said what’s wrong I said don’t you see the fingers in my face he said what fingers I said they hurt bad they’re poking me crowding me closer and closer he said don’t be absurd I said but they hurt so bad he said they can’t there’s no they I said please take them out take them I can’t see he said you’re funny so funny I said I’m starting to choke get them out he said enough I said I’m ch he said oh my God and then he let go of my face

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Drunk with
wonder, full. Want
more? Do I, yes,
will, yes,
be patient
your patient,

an operation to up my tolerance.
Sobering, I want even more
to sign the agreement for you to
change me.

An Ambitious Case Against Envy and Ambition

It’s natural to want to be someone else.
Yeats would agree, and Nietzsche,
the most natural of men, might too.
But what about wanting to be some other thing?
I want to be a pinecone, for example.
One without any grand plans of becoming a tree.
It’s difficult to imagine anything more natural
than that, try as you might to disagree with me.

Please Believe

I am very good at listening, but not
so hot at hearing sounds. I mean:
The tiniest tonal change, yes.
Its source and direction, not so much.
Like an idiot savant,
with the latter half less than completely
accurate. So please believe me:
When I hear all the ways words are wrong
I don’t know that it’s you who is speaking.


I laid them all out like cards,
but you played on the lowest alone
and seem to be eying the rest.
What’s wrong with my facecard desires?
I keep checking the timer,
keep forgetting that it’s not set to one hour or minutes
but the span of my life. So while it’s ticking
I know only that it’s counting down,
but from what, to what, and where we are
now, I don’t know.

You don’t seem disturbed by my anxiety.
Never have—and while it once soothed me,
I’m starting to fight resentment
and calling you hypocrite. Weren’t you the one
who told us? Weep with the weepers.
So why am I sitting here sweating
with you so cool?

At least respond to the king of hearts:
wanting to believe that you still want to play me.

Roadkill on the Sidewalk

Not quite on the sidewalk—in the grass
between asphalt and cement,

you and me.
Me being, of course, an observer,
ambling not errant pedestrian, bystander,
standing for innocence; you, of course,

murderer of the slain.
I chose to walk to save the planet,
to dwell in the pleasance of a June afternooon,
and because I can’t afford a car.
You rejected ambulation in brazen apathy,
comfort at all costs. May your soul rest
like he rests, in the blazing sun.

So the Story Goes

Mr. Ritewell, near finished with his first book,
an epic/drama/romance only semi-fictional,
lifts his hands from his keyboard in shock,
watching words appearing
on the electronic page. June Whitaker,
the protagonist’s sweet
but (naturally) tragic fiance,
introduced at the end of chapter XI (of XII), seems
to be sandwiching between fine lines
a lot of sweet but superfluous additions
out of joint with the thrust of the plot.
She won’t stop. Panicked, Ritewell closes the page
only to find she’s somehow worked her way back
into chapters VII through X, their files flashing
and flickering as she adds herself
randomly to various scenes:
Joshua (the hero) curing diseases;
Joshua talking to the president;
Joshua sleeping.
And then the summery sweet-smelling June—
In her revisions she leaves the protagonist
unchanged, but inserts so many comments
and meticulous characterizations of her mind
and body that a reader could hardly see his
story’s unadulterated awe.
So Mr. Ritewell seizes his mouse
and starts wild clicking.

Scattered Throughout Pontus and Galatia

The wrong habitat. Like sea creatures trapped
in a well-lit terranium,
fins flapping.

Your hospitality is anything but
Still I wish you would let us go home.

Growing Up

Still reeling from not-knowing,
I spin like a lopsided leaf
not too far from my lopsided tree.
It’s not necessarily unjust but certainly
un-something, this substitution of soft
and praise for sharp wisdom,

the kind I lack, not-knowing, craving,
the kind that souls die without finding,
panting sometimes for 90-odd years in a dried-up stream.
Inheritance of the rich and dead.

An evil man who knows how to give good things
is among mercy’s Father’s most generous gifts.
But what exactly can a cracked vessel trying
to make its own water provide?
And is it wrong for a child, thankful
for muddy and manmade water—truly
thankful—to call herself thirsty who’s yearning?

Each perfect gift I got from you
was His.

Romans 8:18

Aches, yes, I got em, aches.
My feet my spine my soul – flesh and bone,
deeper n bone-deep. Poundin way,

aches, I got em, aches.
Aint no tragedy, lackin
the wherewithal for asprin or for moraphine neither,
jess means I’ll be wake when my Jesus come home.


My God asks me so many questions
Where are you hiding? Why
so afraid?
that I can’t answer.
To look at Him? and say
I thought it might hurt less here
away from you
in the dark—

He is a good man
as far as men and goodness go.
Seeing him is like looking
at oceans bending over the curving
I strain my eyes and trust:
The earth is round.
And red skies don’t mean the sun
will be gone forever.

Being Human

It has something to do with sitting
around in an empty house dreaming of God.
And with needing to fight
urges for more than making planes out of paper
and aluminum and steel.

Isaiah 41

Almost perfect in her pale
unadorned beauty, the desert stretches
far to the east and the west, splaying fingers,
and far to the north and south, flexing feet.
Her hips and knees and breasts
are sculpted sandy dunes.
Perfect, almost,

except her eyes:
sealed tight, nothing to look for,
and her mouth:
sealed tight, nothing to say.
Lips melted into one over a swollen
and thick tongue.

Who will speak for this woman? Someone
must know what she’s dreaming,
what hope might live, beating,
beneath the nightmare of being frozen
in place by the heat of perpetual day.

Artists came to look at her and declared
her perfect, melting any and every-
thing in the earth around to mimic her image
in gold and in marble and paint and wood.
Then doctors, intrigued by the rise in superstition,
came. And declared her braindead.
There is nothing we can do but wait, they said,
for nature to run its course.

None of them knew
she knew the Maker of nature, the Keeper of time,

who heard the unformed words
and, pleased by the cinders inside her,
let their thin smoke rise beyond the incense
of eloquent poets, magicians, and kings
—vinegar to heavenly teeth.
He smiled,

and she, full of a joy she could not describe,
let rivers run from grateful eyes, and rose,
dressed in a robe of vines and red flowers
woven together and, drunk from its fragrance
and sweet dew, trampled the blind
naked pictures of her in delight.


Why should the hundredth not fall?
Every other has, each of the ninety nine others. Months
bring nothing new but fresh failures and old seasons
as slow and certain as the changing tide.
What do we have? stone? As if the others lacked shields or any
defense sprung from marriages of mind and matter.
We have it all. We have nothing.
They asked us,

Where is this confidence of yours? The Lord himself
marches beside us.

And we all wept, perched on the wall, weeping,
because the words they were speaking we understood.
We shuddered in the cold of their meaning
like frozen pheasants on high desert walls.

Do not be mislead when it’s said, The Lord will deliver.
Your hope is like the tinder of all of your brothers,
the twigs from which each of the ninety-nine other
gods were once beautifully carved.

I could feel the twitch itching in each of our skins
under the shudder created by icy and alien tongues, to cry:
Wood! Our God! Would you were mad, we could spare you—

recalling Hezekiah, bit burning tongues down.
But we, though proud, though feeling like one
man in our love’s little flame, eyed the high backs
of their dust- and blood-colored robes, and were ashamed
of the battle kindled by the question
raging between each of our ribs.
Why should the hundredth not fall?