Tag Archives: Christianity

Regular Poem: Naked but Also Clothed

7 Apr

it’s not exactly
pointing haphazardly to a mugshot of somebody who looks suspicious anyway
but it’s not exactly a measured intellectual enterprise
either

it’s i like that face
it’s i like that joke
it’s i like that vibe

it’s i like that person and
that person will be my friend
whether they know it or not

it’s dramatically collapsing into the guest chair of someone’s office once a week
tell her jokes
make her tell me jokes
until i miss a week and she complains about it the next week

it’s blocking someone from going to the bathroom and telling her when she’s done
she needs to come back and keep me company
and she does
and she tells me the exact kind of boringly domestic stories i need to hear
to calm my nerves blunt the razor edge of my restlessness
she tells and i listen and we both win

it’s an emotional nudity that is as
uncomfortable as it is necessary

it doesn’t work all the time
or as fully or satisfyingly all the time anyhow
but anyhow
it does work
to varying degrees or
i wouldn’t still be using it

it is what it is
and i am who am
but
what really blows my mind
is when people use my own tactic on me

when people decide rather arbitrarily
or from some breath from the Holy Spirit
that i am
their person now

their person to watch over
and care for
cultivate and edify
look at and look after
force
into positive interactions

i hardly know anything
especially what to pray for

groanings which cannot be uttered

i try to exert my will
and i might succeed
but any success is ultimately
providence

it’s out of my hands
it is what it is

why do i like these people in the first place
why am i the way i am

what is man that Thou art mindful of him

i force friendships
have friendships forced upon me
and i love both
cherish both

it’s an emotional nudity that is as
uncomfortable as it is necessary

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Regular Poem: Perceptions

2 Apr

it’s like that girl scout game telephone
where you sit in a circle and a person whispers a secret
and the next person whispers the garbled secret she heard to the next person etc.
until the last person says out loud the supremely bizarre new secret
a rumor filtered through nine-year-old mouths

sometimes it’s like that anyway

a reputation built on one person’s hero worship another person’s hatred another person’s apathy
filtered through half-remembered incidents colored by individuals’ individual emotions
and subjective construction of events

it’s like that old samurai movie that pioneered the multiple-narrators thing
it’s like cubist paintings
all the perspectives different and coelescing

i watched a video of myself the other day
and i was struck by my own body language
facial expressions

i look good on camera
i move well and have good coloring for it
but
i have to admit
i did come across as rather a bitch
my posture pedantically rigid my eyes haughtily suspicious
my voice controlled yet edged

this isn’t what everyone sees all the time
that samurai movie was right after all

would the woman at the grocery store who asked me for money and then told me her entire life story have treated the woman in the video the same way?
well
grocery-store-checkout-line me is a far cry
from prepared-to-be-attacked-by-a-full-grown-man me
but also
a lot of people who dislike me only ever see
prepared-to-be-attacked-by-a-full-grown-man me
and neither a lot of the people who trust me on sight nor
a lot of the people who dislike me
see high-glam-church me
who elicits a very different type of reaction
(that me is helped and catered to and indulged and complimented)

none of these mes seek these things
their intentions are buying groceries, not getting murdered, worshipping and fellowshipping respectively
and people perceive them how they perceive them

i have a face that whispers different secrets in the telephone circle
plays different parts in the samurai movie
gets sliced up and rearranged into a nude descending a staircase

the samurai movie wasn’t the first to try the technique
the gospels all give slightly different accounts of the resurrection
but you know what?
the core message remains the same

Regular Poem: Ditch It

29 Jan

“Ditch the poetry blog,”
she says.
“Record an album of country-western covers of selections from The Messiah instead.”

“Ditch the vampire novel,”
she says.
“Write the gothic horror romance featuring the necrophilia we all deserve instead.”

They’re both
both right and wrong.

I trust them and don’t.

I write for myself,
whoever myself is at that moment.

And sometimes they like it,
and sometimes they don’t;

sometimes they suggest.

I like the feedback,
the attention,
the knowing
that they know.

But still
I will write what I write.
And I will like it
whether they suggest or not.

The trope of selling one’s soul
is so strange to me.

A soul is given.

There is no capitalistic transaction
in my experience.

There is no cost and benefit analysis.

One sins
gives
lets

is embarrassed later
is shamed later
regets.

A lot of anxiety is there
in the remembering.

One walks in the flesh.

One walks and walks
limping one moment,
speeding the next.

How does one sell what has already been given away?

I’m the class slut.
I desire men with good triceps,
women who dress like repressed morticians.
I satisfy myself haphazardly.

I am vocal,
loud,
obvious.

I’m the class slut
who in real life
gets laid very intermittently
and remains

unsatisfied.

If only someone would drag their fingers through my hair.
If only someone would–

I often think and don’t think.

Ditch this, ditch that.

One walks in the flesh.

One walks,
glides, runs;
as much as I want to be pious–

the Holy Spirit walks, glides, runs.

And yet here I am.

I want so much.
I remember so much.
And yet there is so little here.

Ditch this, ditch that.

I don’t know what I love.
I don’t know what loves me.

It ought to be easier.

But ought is ought
not should.

I ought to ditch a lot of things.
And I should
ditch more.

Regular Poem: Liminal Spaces

8 Oct

it’s one of those

words

that means something
and you know it in jolts and spasms but not in

words

you have to look it up every time
before you use it for real

but you think it
feel it
all the time

***

a corner to turn
and you double check the street sign as you do it

a door to open
and you double check the address as you do it

a pond to jump in
and you double check the depth as you do it

***

certain spaces are heavy dense
full

of something not themselves
but what they’ve been before
and what a sense of them is
or might be
or could be

a hot car on a rainy night
fog and shadows and smears of reflection
tonight
thoughts jittering and skittering

a rainy night four years ago
drunk and upset
same car
different roads
same person
different different same same

a rainy day ten years ago
same car
same smell
a passenger who said
it smells like mocha
maybe it did
maybe it does
maybe that’s just cheap leather seats and smoke and
me

surreal encounters
a wet sheen over everything
hazy and hopeful faint and foreboding and on the cusp of something

***

she and i
talk about a lot of things
but it always
sooner or later
turns to murder
theoretical hypothetical intellectual

an exercise of wits
but still

she knows

my preference is
(would be)
physical intimate
rage and release

i know

her preference is
(would be)
tactical efficient
clean and clinical

we run on parallel tracks
but one of us is freight the other passenger
i don’t know which is which
but the coal is burned the same

***

she and i
talk about a lot of things
but it always
sooner or later
turns to how brains work
how we think what we think when we think
of certain things we think of

i pry into her mind pick apart question analyze
her mind is such a mine
coal copper silver gold
all stunning and worth so much

if i could live in someone else’s brain for a day
to experience the cogs
to calibrate the gear ratios
it would be difficult to choose
i’ve known so many bizarre individuals
but i would ultimately choose her

it wouldn’t be as much of an adventure
so much as an equal and opposite force
we come to the same conclusions different ways
love the same things for subtly different reasons

a dining car on a train
a mess hall on a battleship

***

i wouldn’t know how
to exact revenge

i am a woman bound to temporality
i know the now
and have vague feelings about the then

sharp pangs of acute memory
encased in murky impressions
cloudy
foggy
and then
a lightning flash of something stupid

i read an article once
about a woman who
survived a lightning strike because of the underwires in her bra

of course i don’t remember the details
the how and why

i remember deciduous and coniferous trees
i remember adverbial objectives
i remember bogs and fens
i remember a certain kiss

but i don’t remember all the specific slights

i exist in a temporal plane
alas

***

joke’s on you
she laughs

she uses my phrases
now

we’ve come to be
allies
teammates
friends

i’ve always thought
in spite of myself
her hands were sexy

and now
even though we were meant to hate each other
even though they wanted us to somehow balance each other
we

see each other
match each other
protect each other
care for each other
know each other

love each other

we exchange words that express this
but we also
and more offen and importantly
exchange actions

i wouldn’t care to spend time in her brain
she ought to have something that’s hers alone

i don’t wonder how she thinks

i know

she’s smart
and thinks things i think and things i don’t

i simply
love her for all of it
regardless

***

i’ve been trying
to tell people

i’ve been trying
to show people

i love you
you’re worth something

i say to him
you can share the gospel
without sharing The Gospel
if you don’t cultivate a relationship

you have to care for and love a person for that person
to wonder about
the care and love inside you
where does that love come from
why do you care so much

he likes it
but it’s platitudes

i wish i could be as good as i sounded

***

it’s one of those

words

it’s one of those

feelings

i heard you want to buy a houseboat
she says
but that’s not here
she also says

perhaps she would miss me if i moved away

but that’s so fake and fantastical

it’s just
one of those things
that engenders that sort of reaction

it’s just one of those

words

***

dictionary definitions
lack

i have a lot of feelings about dictionaries
i have a lot of feelings

i have a lot of words

i have a lot and so little

Regular Poem: Pipe Organ

1 Oct

a pipe organ:
the flaps open fully
the sound blasts
fills an auditorium
reverberates and resounds
vibrates against molars
sonic energy palpable in the pulmonary muscle, arteries, vesicles

open and breathing
breathing such wind
as to blow through
such pipes
yards tall
sustained
to the ceiling
every wall

i don’t know how it works

i know the fundamentals:
air and vacuums and
vessels air moves through to produce pitches

i don’t know how it works
but i know
it works

it works aesthetically thematically musically

i know who plays it
but i don’t know how

(the organist gave a concert
she didn’t play organ though
she played piano
because
she said
she didn’t want her glory to surpass His in our eyes
she merely
wanted to play music
that would induce us to praise Him
she also said
it was easy for her
because
her hands were so big
she could span an octave and a third without even stretching
so it was inevitable she would be proficient at keys)

the valves open
and the organ blows
its notes
the organist taps keys
and the organ organs itself somehow

but before that absolute fortissimo
the choir is mezzo forte
just a soft regular before
LOUD MAJESTIC

to be cliche
a calm before a storm
a humdrum before a THE MOST

“did you see all your shout-outs in the company newsletter” (2.5 compliments, to be precise) a coworker says
“yes,” i say, pensive, tentative, suspicious, “but
i’m wondering why everyone’s extolling my virtues
now”
the coworker laughs, says,
“maybe because everyone’s been so shitty to you lately”

i laugh, baffled,

“but everyone’s been shitty to me for years; why should anyone like me now”

we all shrug
and laugh

“i feel as though i should print this out and get your autograph on it” another coworker says
she’s a coworker but not
similar frustrations
similar reprimands
different circumstances

same rage

we laugh
we scowl
we carry stress in our necks
get migraines in the same season
for the same but different reasons

i get a text
and then i make a call
“you’re a tough nut;
you’re so confident;
you know yourself”

it’s all the same validation:
so true and also
so useless

what i don’t say to all these people who believe in me
is that

this validation feels good
and right
and true

moreover

this validation
is valid
objectively
categorically
empircally

true

but fruitless nevertheless
i ought not
revel in these revelations
as soon as i feel good
people tell me i’m bad

we are a postmodern society
truth is meaningless

what is forte
if not tried against piano

the pipe organ blasts
but is it loud
if not compared to
when it doesn’t

Regular Poem: Is Your Unlikeability Holding You Back at Work?

13 Sep

these ads
i swear
how dare they

how dare they cut into me
with such a precise y-incision
hidden so easily beneath the blouse the mortician will slice in half and drape over my corpse

how dare they
see my insecurity of the week
and slap an attractive woman on it
just for spite

use my search history all you want
but stay away from my barely voiced anxiety
please
i beg you
a girl can take
only so much

“is your unlikeability holding you back at work?”

fuck you and the algorithmic psychic magic you rode in on

of course the answer is yes
but to my credit
my unlikeability holds me back everywhere

“you called me a
dumb
man
the other day” he says
“well it sounds like me but i don’t recall saying it”
“did you black out lmao” he says
“i talk constantly
i can’t remember everything i say”

“i know” he says “and you’re not subtle”
“i’m a loud bitch all the time
that’s why i can’t get anywhere in life”

this conversation
occurred way after this ad
but the ad is just so true
whether spoken or unspoken

a lot of versions of me exist
an infinite blinding stream of different same mes

earth 2 me is into bdsm
earth 17 me is a vegan health nut
earth 40 me is a nun

but even earth prime contains many mes
all the mes i am to myself
and all the mes i am to everyone else
all making the same jokes
with different people laughing or not laughing at them

“is your unlikeability holding you back in the theory of the multiverse?”

why shouldn’t it be

my unlikeability
is often my most memorable trait
so why shouldn’t it
carry over to any version of me

“i need you to be on your best behavior” she says
but there’s the rub right
all my behavior is pretty much the same
a baseline of
aggressiveness frivolity efficiency excitement excess
absurdity
contemplation

my best behavior
just isn’t the best
it’s not
nice enough
soft enough
accomodating enough
linear enough

i’m gaslighting myself
delusional
narcissistic
i really am as terrible as they all say
as evidenced by
memory 16b
intrusive thought 184
reaction 93 from trusted friend

“the way we grow is by self-reflection, taking responsibility” she says
i feel like a fucking kid as she lectures me
both because the things she’s saying are so basic and obvious
and because
my gut instinct is to protest that
those people who complain about me are just beyond stupid

what i actually say
is that once i’ve rubbed someone the wrong way
they’re rubbed that way forever
no right rubbing afterward is going to unrub them
because they’ve already decided
and they’ve already spoken
and they’ve already gotten me in trouble
no matter the severity of the initial offense
no matter the matter-of-fact apology i might issue

it’s not like i haven’t experienced it before
confronted myself
consulted myself
consulted others

and what i’ve ultimately concluded
is that we all sin and we all stutter and we all have flaws
but i’m so loud and visible
that some people just can’t forgive me the way they might forgive others
overlook me the way they might overlook others

i’m a hard woman
and an easy target

because who’s going to argue that i’m not hard

no one

it’s easy to believe i’m the way they say
the way they wrongly perceived
because
i’m not nice

i’m thoughtful
i’m pleasant
i’m funny
i’m truthful
i’m fair
i’m blunt
i’m sharp

but i’m not
nice

and what i’ve ultimately concluded
is that it’s the devil

he wants me to feel this way
this bad way
this marginilized undermined mean unworthy
thing
rather than the regular person i am

i’m a regular person
i have my own problems
why can’t people mind their business
and realize this
that their problems and my problems
are different and the same
and we’re all just trying to make a living
and also live
we’re all trying to just live

but of course
everyone reacts to stress differently
they made the best decision for themselves
and it happened to affect me adversely

they weren’t trying to hurt me

i wasn’t trying to hurt them

but we hurt each other
anyway

the difference is
(in my own fevered ruminations)
i was trying to ignore what i didn’t like about them
grow to like them eventually
give them a little room

but i don’t ever get any room
i’m not an acquired taste
just a taste you either like or don’t
black licorice cilantro quinine
it’s one strike for me

it’s the devil

when the sun’s shining but it’s still raining
they say
the devil’s beating his wife

i don’t remember getting married
but i’ve got plenty of bruises

Regular Poem: You Don’t Have to Earn It

31 Aug

You don’t have to earn it.
It’s grace
that brings us here.
It’s grace
that matters.
“You don’t have to earn it,”
I say to myself.
“You don’t have to earn it,”
the song says.

Some bruises can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Some bruises
are deep.
Some bruises
are not bruises but
scars
and

memories.

“It’s 95 degrees in beautiful south Wichita. The last two weeks’ rain has given way to glorious sun and adventitious humidity and mosquitoes. The back yard is still only half mowed due to both physical moisture and mechanical deficiencies.”

It’s the mower from the black lagoon,
the mower Noah took on the ark.

And

how quickly we go from hysterical laughter to “even this joy has been stolen from me”

crying and mowing and crying and mowing.

The crying is related to the mowing
but only tangentially–

the point on the circle that connects to the line
bypassing that circle.

Mowing is fraught.

It’s the grass and the gasoline.
It’s the physicality.
It’s the knowing

that everyone can see it on the front lawn.

Mowing is hard,
arduous, even.

Mowing is
mowing–
a blade and biceps,
cutting and cajoling.

I was granted this.
I was bequeathed this.
I didn’t

earn this.

Earning can be positive or negative–an exchange of currency–
a system of
supply and demand.

The Holy Father is no capitalist.

The exchange of goods and services
is all good and serviceable
as long as people are good and serviceable,

but we know
man is not that;
man is man is man is
narcissistic,

proclaiming himself

good and righteous and all-knowing and

god
unto himself.

But there is something beyond himself
if himself should ever consider.

You don’t have to earn it.

But you should want to.

The wanting to is a step.
And the grace is the grace
all the same.

The fig tree is cursed.
The woman is whole.
The fishers are fishers of men.
The water is wine.

You don’t have to earn it.

(I bribe myself
with people,
but
I don’t have to earn it;
I just
seek them out,
enjoy them,
enjoy
myself.

You don’t have to earn it.)

All religious systems
are based on merit–
gaining access, performing well enough,
balancing
the scales.

All but this one.

You don’t have to earn it.

You want
to earn it–
that would be so good for your psyche–
but you can’t
and don’t.

You don’t have to earn it.

You should.
You’re a good girl.
Until you’re not.

You don’t have to earn it.

You’re used to earning things.
That’s the way
the world works–
tit for tat, this for that. Supply and demand.

But the Lord supplies and demands,
widows and orphans and kings and pharisees.
It’s a paradox, a conundrum.

You don’t have to earn it.

And you can’t.

We can’t earn it,
only see it
accept it
love it
live it.

The grace is there and has been

there.

Solomon
started off knowing some things,
wrote some useful things, but at the end,

all those concubines got the best of him.

He earned it and then didn’t.

He earned it, didn’t earn it, earned it again–
well shit
that’s almost all
the Old Testament.

You don’t have to earn it.

I, personally, have earned nothing.
It’s easy to see it.
And maybe that’s a blessing.

You don’t have to earn it.
You can’t earn it.
You ought to want to earn it.

It’s easy and it’s hard and it’s
worth it.

I’m easy and I’m hard and I’m
worth it.
I don’t have to earn it.

It’s all grace.
It’s all
what it is.

I don’t deserve this.
I deserve better.
I deserve worse.

My deserving
is a desert
or dessert.

My derserving is irrelevant.

You don’t have to earn it.

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