Category Archives: Poetry

To My Evangelical Tradition: A Note in Parting, With Hopes of Return

I.
I have loved you and
dwelt within your walls. I
have sung praises
in your tongue and read
your recommendations.

We have gone and
witnessed, spent Summers
saving spent sinners,
convincing them into despair
and sorrow, but offering them
salvation through our
conceptual Christ.

I have come to your conferences, and I
have memorized your music. I have learned
your cant and taken your words seriously.
I have lost my youth to your urban ascetic,
rejected The Lost on their terms, that they
may meet me on our own.

II.
But I reject you, now,
and hold no grudge.
You are the sick.
You are the broken.
You are the lost.
You are in need of healing.

I don’t love your conditioned Jesus, and have
faced the consequences. The alienation
from His people
(they are not yours),
the rejection from
roles, the demands
to keep silent.

I reject you, who drown my
loved ones in your phony baptismal
of praxis and convention,
the blind submerging
the blind, your holy
ceremony of self-mutilation.

You, who dwell on bookshelves
marked “inspirational” and
“self-improvement,” who serve
my psyche in its Herculean
pursuit of the
sustained Godhead.

Who condition me to hate
my mind, offering a miasma
of fluff as my rock
and foundation.
 
III.
I pray that you may now be
as your proclaimed Christ.

That you may die
his vicious death.
Be buried.
Be silent.

That when I return to your tomb
I may find you
                      gone,
                                    transformed,
            risen,
                                                    restored.

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It Could All Probably Be Different. Probably.

The coffee shop’s empty and I’m peacefully reading
When a rusty spring screaks and I hear,
“DUDE, you SUCK!”
Four baseball players from the local high school,
arriving together, searching
for snacks and status.
Their dynamic is clear.
The tall one leads, fueled by the desperate flattery of his
Acne-punctuated sidekick, who would disown his family
For a few laughs. Then there’s the observant
One, who doesn’t belong here and will probably one day drift
Out of the group just as smoothly as he’s drifted in.
And tailing them all is this short, chubby kid,
The one who sucks,
a fan of these few who
just wants them as friends.

But he’s screwed from the start,
because he’s got the body of
a scapegoat, and so with each desperate joke and question
he adds his humble share of dirt to their
circle’s fiat of his rejection.
You know he knows this
because of how he recklessly rambles when
conversation gets awkward, and because of
how he wears his shirt at pools. He wears

the shirt that was made two years ago, by a
32 year old in some Indian factory. The man had just joined the
company and spent a lot of his time quietly humming to himself
and studying the pixels on his phone. All in attempt at
avoiding the ten-year factory veteran who’s promotion he pilfered, all in attempt
at avoiding the incompetent boss who’s dad was a founder, all in
attempt at avoiding the group of father’s who always eat lunch at
the same time and table,
who have not once invited him to
sit or have asked him any questions.
Lunch at the father’s table is always full
of stories, like the one told by

The newest member about how his son, Alex, was born just
last week in Lincoln Memorial Hospital. And everyone
was rejoicing and tearing
Up at the beauty of it all until the doctor said,
“He’s at risk here, we need to get him
To the nursery.”
So Alex was taken away from his parents and cousins,
And from his grandfather, who’d come up just for the occasion,
to the safety of the newborn nursery,
Where two of the babies had already hit it off, and
Were saying stuff to each other like
“Uhhhhhh,” and “Ohhhhh!”
And it looked really appealing to Alex,
Who was already trying to stifle this strange feeling of want,
so he played it cool, casually rolled over to face their adjacent cribs,
took a deep breath,
and mustered up the courage to flash
them both a big toothless smile.
But the response was hostile, met only with a gurgling of their spit
and teasing tears, perturbed by this overt expression of human need–

Loneliness.

The same loneliness that hits Alex’s grandfather as he resettles in
The nursing home’s stiff-backed chair,
sinking into its compositing
Cushion under the weight of
Weltschmerz and flesh, eyes
Greying in the room filled with
Teammates and coworkers past,
the room where physical deterioration
has finally made clear what has been
present all along. Where the ones
Who did right and the ones who did wrong
sit silently, basking in a silence that proclaims
“We have done our part.”
There is no bragging, no condescension,
no social acrobatics; there is only
the aged, enlightened quitters
who don’t want anyone to sit with them, because
they’ve done all that before,
and they know it doesn’t work.

A Poem Like A Cheerleader, Who’s Got Everything and Nothing

I am not a poet…..

And I’m not saying
That to be clever,
Like the man who says, “I am not a poet,
I am merely a secretary to the ever-resounding voice of nature
As it whispers rare truths into my ear.”
Or to criticize, like this student in my class who says stuff like, “Poetry blows.
It’s complicated for no reason and super pretentious.”
I’m not saying that.
I’m just saying that I’m bad with slant
And I suck with syllables,
Free verse muffles me,
And sonnets constrict.

I am not a poet.
Footnote:
What I really mean here is that I am not
A performance poet, a ‘slammin!’ poet, an
Articulate poet who can woo women,
And you, with sexily inflected rhymes.
Return to text.
I am young and naïve. My
Take on the world is immature.

I am a student you don’t know.
A student you had never heard of until now, and
Odds are will never hear from again.
I am a student who bathes in and with books, devouring D’Agata
and Barth, Wallace and Eggers.
I am a savvy student.
I am a historically anonymous student.
You do not know that I am from Philadelphia, though Canadian.
That I was afraid of being home alone until high school.
That I have never had a car accident.
I’m post-modern not because of the things I read or the way I write,
But because of how unbearably self-conscious I am in my attempt to be cool.
I check the mirror 5 times before I go out, and I edit 10 times for style.
I know this, you’re probably picking up on this, so let’s just get it out there.
I’m aware of myself,
And I can’t stop talking about it.
I.
Eye.
Aye!

I would like to be, but am not, a poet because
Poetry is incarcerated for identity theft and
I really just don’t want to get involved.
America,
Footnote:
And, of course, when I suggest that poetry is dying, I mean that the American reader is dying,
Which is a distinction I am hesitant to make considering America’s grotesque narcissism, our constant masturbation, that isolates all others and makes mention of their presence uncool and/or obsolete.
Return to text.
America overwhelms and relativizes, destroying
Distinctions and excommunicating categories. The artist is dead.
The mother is dead. The teacher is dead.
The lover is dead. The parent, employer,
Student, writer, friend, thinker, director
Dead.

There was no bang and there was no whimper,
There was just us in our Hunger Games of
entertainment and pleasure, until we suddenly found
ourselves lost on the muted Sea, drowning with
the Pirates of the Caribbean under the
thin smirk of our CGI’d Twilight.

I am not a poet, because I don’t know how to say.
I don’t know what to hear.
I can talk about America and meaning,
Youth and pretension, culture and significance,
But I, the artist-mother-teacher-
Lover-parent-employer-
Student-writer-friend
Thinker-director, the not-poet,
Just don’t know who can listen.
So, allow me to introduce you to the Capital-P Poem,
Whose home is silence. Let’s savor Him
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Until we’re done.

For The Bleeding, Inside and Out

The suit says times are tight
As it sits at the Starbucks counter,
Picking crumbs of lemon pound cake
Off the loaned white plate. And the donation
Seems unlikely, since times are tight,
So up goes the priest, to his two thousand
Two Volvo, in search of alternate support.

Ek het niks om te gee. Maar as jy kan, asseblief sorg vir my broer.

Banned pulpit words forced through
holy lips, bitter by the degradation of society.
Turning into his sanctuary’s mega-mall lot,
He fumes on the stage, empty on this Saturday,
To be filled by distortion and delay the next morning,
Proclaiming health and wealth, in the prettily presented
Package of a saviour past, to the same suits, he knows,
That don’t have a dollar to spare.

Jy is in my geestelike familie? Dank God!

Sunday morning, he speaks to the droves,
Chummy calls to niceties and good intentions,
Relating to them for the sake of his message,
Whose meaning died with “Let’s try to relate.”
The wireless mic projects the hollow aphorisms
To the animated suits, which are excited by the revolution of it all,
The deterioration of God from the inside out. They hear
The voices of the Third World through podcasts and professional
Graphics, the evangelization of penance by pocket books.

Hoor ons stemme. Ons wil net jou ore.Wees ons verdedigers.Ons vriende.

And Namibia continues to bleed as the Afrikaan voices drift
Into beautiful and spacious skies, vacant of sympathy
Or support. The debilitating Sickness heard
By none by those who’ve responded to Apollo’s
Delphian call, gotten up,
And done.

We Build to Climax

The poem is read, after he bowed
Listeners, one of whom you are
The first I heard was “The Waking”
And in place of line breaks
The shore’s soft, shapeless waves
To shapeless youth, maturing in their bodies
Are dying, aging unto death
Do them part, the surgeon dismantles
“Atomic bombs!” screams Bono, fighting
Soldiers are at war, nation’s disintegrate
Molecules into sugary drinks, lemonade
Stands made my first buck
Spent on candy (not stolen)
Like Mark would when he was 14
Birds flying over carnivorous cities
Grow and throb, fueled by energy
And significance, building to the climactic
Silence amongst the crowd.

Seeking Paschal Triduum

I.
At Golgotha’s foot
we gathered to describe the
destruction of Peace.
Eight of us, the true disciples,
committed to clarifying
details, merging perspectives.

Six said He was
whipped and burned,
naked and bruised.
Arms outstretched,
a Holy weathervane,
dead and discarded.

Naked? I said, sensing
variance of views. I’d seen torn
fabric dangle at waist; albeit flesh
toned, but present. Another had
caught glimpse of the Flesh of
all flesh, though acknowledged the
fabricated efforts to conceal.

Ours was a silence-breaking offense.
He must have been naked!
said the second. As our Lord entered,
so he exited! Shouts of concurrence rose,
unsettled roars of the growing herd.

Myself and the other stood
our ground, positive of His
concealment. This man was greater!
we cried. He died incarnate in what He
knew! He was covered, as are we!

Hours blurred and lines
were drawn. At the onset, our parties
held hope of obsoletion. But as
we acrobats developed
peculiarity-dependent theologies,
polarizing our packs, hope drowned
in Lethe. Resolute,
the implacable differences
taught us Hatred in our parting.

II.
Mine and I had travelled six months South
when we first heard of the books. Four, friends
of our foes, had transcribed the tale,
describing Him as whipped and burned,
naked and bruised. Canonized, these
impugnable histories, these
bedmates of bridle.

I, the wandering Jew, have lived
to see the proliferation of opinion,
the merging of perspective and Fact.
I, now heretic,
have experienced the power of
the written Word (curse its
unsparing conquests!).
I, the lowly,
am deemed incapable
of insight.

Yet I remain ardent
among the faithful,
who entrench themselves
in truth.

Author’s Notes:
(1) The title, Paschal Triduum, refers to the three day period between the Lord’s Supper and the Resurrection of Jesus.
(2) ‘Lethe’ is the name of a river that runs through Hades (according to Greek mythology). Also known as the ‘river of forgetfulness,’ the souls of the dead were required to drink from it, causing them to forget their previous lives.
(3) The “wandering Jew” is a figure from medieval Christian folklore, who was said to have taunted Jesus on the way to the crucifixion, and for it was cursed to roam the Earth until the Second Coming. In the context of this poem, one need not worry about the taunting; the important point is that the wandering Jew is said to have been present at the crucifixion and remains alive to this day.

When I Go To The Bathroom

An Ode to Routine

When I Go To The Bathroom

I take the crippled stall.
I’m heartless, I know.
It’s just,

I don’t know how long
I’ll be captive to the throne.
It may be minutes, hours.
Days.
19 years experience
teach you much about
estimates and allotted time,
but, somehow, blunders persist.
I’m trying to
minimize my margin
of error, to predict my
intestinal proficiency.

But these efforts
bare paltry fruit,
and so

I play it safe.
In case of emergency,
I’ll need freedom to dream.
Standard stalls simply
won’t do. My creations need
                                                                                                                        space.
Space the crippled stall has.
Because crippled people
dream more,
bigger?
No.
It’s for the chair,
Obviously.

I was crippled
once. Nine years old
and cocky, best slide
rider in the world. So
fast. So furious. At recess,
I’d show off. A broken leg
and a fury of numberless
tears later, and my life was
dramatically transformed
For a little less than a month.

The crippled stall welcomes me
every time. It is comforting, like my
mother (who is not crippled).
Once, actuality attacked;
a pair of wheels,
gray and worn
rubber, approached the hospital-
tan stall. Desperate for relief, but
Cautious. Hesitant.
[Pause]
Hello?[1]
Panic.

I am not crippled.
I never have been crippled.
I hope never to be crippled.
But oh, their taste in stalls!

 

 

 

1(the cripple, to me, a fraud).