Tag Archives: Christianity

Regular Poem: if i die young

7 Feb

if i die young
don’t bother
with the satin and roses
just set me up with
one of those
$599 cremations
they advertise on billboards on the highway
put my ashes
in a cigar box
and my dad will place it
lovingly on his tv stand
right next to the ashes of his dog
who died quietly at 17
right on the living room floor
just gasped and died
and probably whispered
the rest is silence
in his dog language

i will have of course said
what is done cannot be undone to bed to bed to bed
or hopefully
father into thy hands i commend my spirit
but either way
it will have been finished

(i would prefer
of course
to have my body donated
give my myopic eyes
to some sap worse off than me
they’re pretty
at least
but mostly useless
[i won’t draw too many parallels
until maybe when i do
later in this poem]
my heart and lungs and kidneys and liver
ought to be all right
not great perhaps
but better than nothing
what other transplants do they even do
skin for burn victims maybe
i’ve got a lot of scars
and i sunburn easily
but like i said
better than nothing
and the leftovers
to a medical school
or something
pump that stuff in my veins
to keep them from collapsing as
scalpels pierce and peruse them
most of the bodies they get
for things like that
are old
nothing’s wrong with an old body
but variety is nice

anyway
i just don’t think my dad
would abide that
he’d want me next to oscar
so i can watch ncis with him
on tuesdays

of course there are also
other people
who might lobby hard
for an embalming
put me in a blazer with a brooch
red lipstick
so they can see the wax sculpture
that might’ve been
if i’d gotten famous

but dad would be bankrolling the thing
probably
so cigar box
it is)

someone please
finish my vampire novel
pretend
i had an outline to follow
and praise my genius
(and don’t you even dare
add a romantic subplot)

remember that genius
and forget my faults
forget
like most of my life

and remember only
that i was faithful
dutiful
beautiful
clever

forget
i was
a gossip and a drunk
almost totally worthless

use my credit union savings
to pay off my convertible and credit cards
write a terse obit
that makes me sound glamorous and eccentric

depending on circumstances
the cops might be involved
and uncover some weird stuff
(nothing too weird
probably
but you know
don’t be alarmed if they do)
but forget that too
just

remember
the best
version of me
and imagine it all
in that cigar box
which is like
exactly the size
for the best parts of me

Regular Poem: Lamentations

12 Nov

you don’t feel so bad
when you just

live and struggle and hate and rage and ache and hunger and grieve and repent and pray and wish

and it’s just what you do
like unloading the dishwasher
or flossing your teeth
a routine
a ritual
automatic and nothing of note

but when
someone loves you
so hard
and
sees

sees
knows
feels

i don’t have a good poker face
but i thought i was better at a whole mask
but i’m not apparently
the lipstick shields me
from other eyes maybe

(but i was right
i’m not the same)

but the difference
between our theories
on the origin of the change
is that
mine details my own faults and failings
masochistic self-loathing
prognosis chronic recurring incurable
treat symptoms with day dreams and liquor

she knows
something did it to me
disrespected me enough devalued me enough
so often and so long
that i’ve internalized it

presciption skipping town

not in so many words
but it’s the same idea
the same idea
i’ve had and discarded
but coming from her
it sounds more reasonable

it’s not a houseboat
but it’s something
a hope

someone believes in you
and always has
and still does
even though
you don’t
anymore

prognosis acute deadly
prescription amputate

any pills will overload the kidneys
any injections will poison the liver
excise while you can
the rest can be salvaged
will phoenix itself once the tumor is gone

but what if
everything is the tumor

and you get rid of one
and two more sprout
you skip town
and it’s the same everywhere
because the problem isn’t the town you’re skipping
but the skippee
He hath set me in dark places
as they that be dead of old

it is good for a man
that he bear the yoke in his youth
but how long is youth
truth is objective
but a lot of the intracacies
of same
are subjective

he sitteth alone and keepeth
silence
because he hath borne it upon him
heaping my own hot coals onto my own head

and still
there’s this
anticipation
everyone has
everyone
but you

the masochist the feminist
everyone
inside you
screams and screams
and
cries and cries

(and the glossy tears unshed
making your alto a tenor

a ’40s melodrama heroine conflicted
about leaving her cheating husband
or writing a salt-stained letter
confessing to a murder)

someone knows
more than you
everyone
knows more than you
in certain arenas

what evidence
is trusted
is the jury
vetted

His compassions fail not
they are new every morning

i am different
but
He is
who is and who was and who is to come
and i just gotta
be
a little longer
and maybe different me
will do different things
or die trying

Regular Poem: Vice

28 Aug

There’s nothing
new under the sun. All
is vanity and vexation
of spirit.

I open this way both
because it’s true
(all scripture is profitable
for doctine and instruction etc.)
and because it’s the way
all my poems should open.
They’re all the same, even the one
I didn’t write
two weeks ago
and then
really
didn’t write
when I realized
Miranda Lambert had written it
for me.

Country western songs
are all the same, too.
Patty Loveless
probably wrote it for her.
Loretta Lynn probably
wrote it for Patty.
Kitty Wells probably
wrote it for Loretta.

And Solomon
wrote it for all of us.
David wrote it for him.
And the Holy Spirit breathed it
into him,
convicted him
to cry out
and accompany himself on his harp,
selah.

(To the chief musician,
most country western songs
are in a major key,
but why?
Yours,
A)

You start a fire from
the bottom.
Catch the tinder
and it lights the kindling and frame
and then the rest
burns, too. Slowly sometimes.
The sins
I’ve thrown
on the top of the pile–
vices to add to my list (that
was the starting point
of that poem I didn’t write
two weeks ago)–
are the ones I’d like
to see consumed
first.
I should’ve shoved them
in the bottom.
But that’s so dense already.
How’s any air supposed to get in?

How fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous
(that’s how the Amplified Bible often further explains the word blessed)
it is then
that the Holy Spirit
breathes
so much.

Regular Poem: Job

8 Apr

Much is always said
about the patience of Job
but what of his grief?

He spends most of the book
lamenting
and questioning
and just being
sad.

My favorite
is when he says,
“Oh that I had given up the ghost,
and no eye had seen me.
I should have been
as though I had not been;
I should have been
carried from the womb
to the grave.”

It’d be melodramatic
to apply those King James words
to my own circumstances
but
who hasn’t said to themselves
at some point–
as the Amplified Version puts it–
“I am weary of my life
and loathe it!
I will give free expression
to my complaint;
I will speak
in the bitterness
of my soul.”

Me, too, brother.
Yeah, I guess
I don’t have boils
and all my children aren’t dead
and my friends aren’t telling me
God is punishing me because of my sin
and my wife isn’t telling me to curse God and die.

But anyway,
the point is,
God never retracts his statement
that Job is righteous–
even through his misery
and monologues and moanings of mourning.

He’s angry and sins not.
He questions and sins not.
He’s sad and sins not.

Because those feelings aren’t sins.
Notice he doesn’t actually
curse God and die.

He’s just sad.
And that’s ok.
He doesn’t expect
a reward,
and he never gets
the answers he wants.
He repents and praises
and God does
what God wills,
and of course

there’s no rest for the wicked
and the righteous don’t need any.

Regular Poem: i keep

16 Feb

i keep
my house chilly
and my heart
chillier
but how
do you keep
warm
on these cold lonely
winter
nights
you might ask

the short answer
is

i don’t

the long answer
is

rage is an inefficient fuel
blazes too hot
too fast
too often
scorches through you
till your filaments
just burn out
and you have to replace yourself
again and again
like lightbulbs in a bathroom with
ancient wiring

i plead
fill my cup to overflowing
turn this heart of stone to a heart of flesh
and yet i burn and burn out and am replaced again
a new bulb every day
(every hour some days)
waiting
hoping
come quickly Lord
i end the prayers every time
and it’s probably the only part
i actually
desire
and i wonder
is this
just selfish
let the world burn so i can
throw a crown
(probably a shitty one at that
made of tin
or even lead
maybe just dandelions)
at Someone Else’s feet
and be done with it
nobody marrying or being given
in marriage
no tears
no sorrows
none of this
rage
none of this
wretchedness
none of this
this
just
perfection
whatever that is
(all pearls and jade and gold and God)
i don’t
know now
i don’t
need to know
i just
know
substance of things hoped for
evidence of things unseen
you know

anyway
i sweat in my sleep
on those cold lonely
winter
nights
i always go to bed cold
and wake up hot
and start my day
hating everything
listening to the old testament
somehow
i keep
up with it
and
somehow
He keeps me
and
i keep

Regular Poem: Controlled Burn

5 Dec

Refining by fire
testing a heart
by metaphorical heat
leaves one as silver
pure
and able to reflect
(that’s when a refiner knows
silver is refined–
or so I’ve heard–
the impurities
burn
and what’s left
is like a mirror,
shining
and showing
something above.)

Metals refine,
but proteins
denature–
molecules stripped
and changed,
chemical makeup
altered
from its natural state.

And that’s also the point,
isn’t it?
To free us of
our nature–
base and greedy,
wanton, ravenous–
to free us
from the furnace.

This metal–
or protein–
says ouch
for now
and
hallelujah
for later.

Regular Poem: that kind of everything

15 Nov

Started working on this poem about a month ago when my dad had to be hospitalized for drinking himself half to death. It doesn’t exactly feel finished although he’s out of rehab and doing well now. 

[1]

it’s that kind of night

i haven’t looked for the moon
i’ve been too busy
on earth
i wonder if
it’s as big and looming
as i feel it should be
(i learn later it was a
new moon
not even present
sent in its absentee ballot
or maybe abstained)

i want to
shoot my gun in the air and
scream
fuck a stranger
get in a fight
swim in the wine dark sea
until i’m so tired
i can’t make it back to shore
just bob on sleepily
until a fishing boat reels me in
and when they ask me to explain myself
say i’m a mermaid and
refuse to discuss the matter further

“don’t ask me hank why
do you drink”
he sings
and i sing too
i always sing too

the air is smoke
no oxygen left nothing left to even burn 
and my body itches
as my mind
screams
screams
screams

if you were a bettin’ person
you could put money on
my doing push ups

it’s what i do when i get fucked up
it’s dick measuring
(measuring against no one)
it’s stress relieving
(not working)
it’s
me
(but barely)
and i could do hundreds
and feel the ache in my first rib
the one my chiropractor put back
in place last week

the pain of it reminds me
and makes me forget
it
screams
screams

“why must you live
all the songs
that you wrote”
he sings and
i sing too
i always sing too

it’s choking
(i’ve choked before
but never as much as i’d liked
to see someone’s eyes bulge and
scream)

the lady
who takes his information
is foreign
indeterminately British
and i wish i were anywhere but
here
on this phone with
this lady
four eyes boring into me
(the other two eyes dim with drink and dehydration
staring into Hank Jr. songs
in a whiskey abyss)
regardless they all
want me to say
the right thing
11am
she says they can admit him
i’ll probably have to call in
tomorrow
and i’m glad
(though later when
i do
i don’t remember
how
and i’m still
glad)

i’ve done 80
push ups
good ones
butt down
nose to ground
and still
he doesn’t think
i can haul his 125 pound carcass
to the bathroom

he smells
like a dead man
and i smell
like a
scream
all cigarettes and beer and vanilla

and i don’t
scream
but i want to

[2]

it’s that kind of evening

full of
blessed nothing
possibility
cursed nothing
impossibility
improbability
probability

alone
with plenty of garages to clean
and not enough people to kiss
too many beers to drink
not enough willpower not to
too many songs to sing
too many couches to lie on
too many novels to write
too many thoughts
too many feelings
enough of it all
too much of not enough
everything happens all the time
too fast
and never
enough

[3]

it’s that kind of morning

all red lipstick and rage
quiet and held in the shoulders and neck and jaw
and that rib that’s out again
along with a few others

is she a chiropractor or a priest
i pay her for flagellation
my cranials plead for penance
she absolves my joints and listens
and i want to cry in her arms
but she’s not someone i hire to do
that
she just adjusts my sacrum
and tells me she doesn’t know what to say
i say there’s nothing
to say

it’s time
for emotional outbursts
in diners
stares from old couples
as my eyes well up
with old hollywood tears
i’m pretty when i cry

torch songs over coffee and pancakes
and a convertible top that sticks midway

[4]

it’s that kind of afternoon

too windy
there are funner ways
to get lipstick all over your face
but what would i know about that
all i know
is a glitchy convertible
and surreal sad songs on the radio
drowning
drowning
in harp over electric guitar over
physical restraints at work

my body
lunges into them
hoping to make my mind forget
for just a sec
just one sec
but my mind
sings anyway
it always sings anyway

“’cause i was filled with poison
and blessed with beauty and rage”
i wonder if he’d be into her
under the right circumstances

too much coffee
too much music igniting it
and i’m doing butterflies
with no tap lessons

[5]

it’s that kind of night

again

he’s sober but not exactly with it
i’m sober but dog tired

and i’m daydreaming about applying
hydrocortisone to my incipient stress rash
and skipping town

(this kid at work
hates me
it takes him a while to
remember
sometimes
but when he does
it’s two hour tantrums, 65 self injurious behaviors, 22 headbutts
it’s this
scream
as if i’m an actual axe-wielding madwoman
someone
should record it and use it
in horror films
he could pay his tuition with the profits that would make
and instead of begrudging him
every time
i just think
what it would be like
to make that noise
with that intensity
every time i was upset
about real problems
instead of someone doing their job
politely telling me to wash my arm
and then i think
that problem
to him
is just as stressful
for whatever reason
as mine are to me
but anyway
point is
i’m envious
i can’t make that noise
and headbutt everything
i detest and want to postpone indefinitely)

it’s that kind of night
that i want to fall into my bed
and sleep in my clothes
(i’ve never done that before
what does it feel like
to be the sloppy person
who does that
i would ask one
but he would just give
excuses
rather than answers)

excuses
rather than answers
and that rash is getting worse

[6]

it’s that kind of night

rain and rash
cramps and costumes
small talk and big eating

it’s hard
not to sing along
to a song you know the words to
you can try to hate it
and even succeed
but there you are
singing anyway
always singing anyway

[7]

it’s that kind of night

it’s always nights
when the sun sets so early
and you’re inside all day
so you try to soak in
some kind of phantom sunshine
it’s not there
but you are
outside
where it’s crisp and night sounds and neutral smells

no one
has lit a bonfire tonight
and no flowers are blooming
it’s just
you and the night
and two lines of a song
cascading

a glitter and glint
of porch light on a puddle
and chunky little clouds
covering up the stars
(what constellations are even
out?
i always accuse everything of being orion
and remember i’m always wrong about that
and retract that
and accuse everything of being sagittarius)

and everything is
nothing
so lifeless and lackadaisical
and the rash is on its way out
and i almost miss it

[8]

it’s that kind of morning

why feel good

when you can go about
every inane daily event
out of duty and ritual
hating everything
or ar least feeling unsatisfied
and then drink
hating yourself the whole time
and wake up the next morning
hungover
and hating yourself even more than the night before
and do it all over again
in a stagnant depressing cycle

why feel good

when you can lift up
prayers that would be answered for other people
but not for you

(that’s why he’s sober now
i think in my pathetic rage
my prayers are selfish and stupid and unlistened to
[or perhaps the answer is just always no]
but i’m good at recruiting worthier holier people)

it comforts me
that all the people god chose to bless
in the old testament
were dicks

(it angered me when i first realized the pattern
but then god revealed it to me
that all of us are dicks
and it sunk in
more than it had before)

i’ll take my esau blessing
(do you have only one blessing
not even another little one lying around in the back shed)
for now

but at least there’s
hope
i’ll be one of the chosen dicks
one day

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