Tag Archives: Christianity

Regular Poem: Stiff-Necked

20 Nov

It is a stiff-necked people.

I always liked the phrase
but never quite understood it.

Until my own neck became stiff
my muscles tense
pulling my ribs out of alignment.

I had always imagined the Isrealites
gazing unchangingly
at their molten idol–
just being jerks,
focused on whatever
was in front of them.

But I get it
now.

They weren’t stiff-necked just because of that.
It was the accumulation
that made them that way.
They carried their stress in their shoulders
their trapezia, their rhomboids.

They were stiff-necked
metaphorically
stubborn and proud
but probably also
literally
after years of wandering and waiting.

You delivered me from bondage in Egypt
just to murder me in the wilderness.

I’ve seen the manna,
the magical, the miraculous.

And yet here I am
begging for a golden calf.

It is a stiff-necked people.

It is a stiff-necked me.

I need a massage.
And to repent.

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Regular Poem: It’s Always Rosebushes

3 Oct

my stance on rosebushes
(to recap: fuck them;
they’re the worst)

is well-documented

consider then
my chagrin
horror even

discovering
and contemplating

that i am one
damn it

my pastor’s sermon sunday
(and you see now it’s
tuesday
and i’m still thinking about it;
one or both of us
is at least doing
some t h i n g
right)

was about change growth
sanctification
(if you want to be like that
and he didn’t say the word
and i didn’t think it—
till just now)

to paraphrase

heat affects us all
(common grace, common tribulation)
and the way we respond
shows our heart
our root

are we inhabiting the parched places of the wilderness
or are we
as a tree planted by the waters

do men gather grapes of figs
or thorns of thistles

he went on to say
people don’t plant
thorny things
thorny things
spring up
from sin
from that heart of the old man
who hangs around
wolf whisting
scoffing

but of course
people do plant rose bushes
pretty flowers ugly thorns
vines and vines and vines
horrible and intricate and beautiful

the roots are long and sturdy
difficult to disrupt
you dig and dig
and sweat and sweat

and from that root
comes great and terrible
alike

you deadhead
you prune

and still
it’s both flowers and thorns
and still
a hearty rosebush
is the only discernible t h i n g

i ought not
have these thorns
i ought to be a mum or pansy

but here i am
this rosebush

heart divided
heat and rain encouraging
both flower and thorn

Regular Poem: Self-Help

23 Apr

it’s
not even that
i don’t believe it
coming from myself
but i can’t even make myself say it
to myself

i’ll say it
to you
or to her
or to him

you’re valuable
tomorrow’s a new day
you can do this

i’ll say it
to anyone
and mean it

but the words
clog
in my own throat
to my own self
and turn into

you’re valuable-ish
tomorrow’s the same day
you could do this if

i can
look in the mirror
and say
you’re pretty

but that’s almost always followed by
beauty is passing
and charm is deceitful 
a woman who fears the lord

let me be a woman who fears the Lord
make me a woman who fears the Lord
change my heart and
change my mind and
change my thinking and
ch-ch-changes
turn and face the strange

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.

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