Global Casualty

I am a casualty of the casualties of unintentioned people
I am captive by my plight and sentenced to death by armies of cell-phone having, dog walking, organic chip eating ranks of the intentionally unconfronted
I am consigned to a pit so deep that light is just a dream

They don’t mean to leave me to thirst, starve, freeze, swelter, or contract preventable diseases
They don’t mean to leave me in ignorance, poverty, war, exploitation
They don’t mean to…

And so it is they who pull the trigger
And so it is they who eat my food and throw away the rest, drink my water and pollute what is left
And so it is they who take my labor for nothing, profit from my misery, revel in a world where I don’t exist

All because they don’t mean

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My Friends

Bright colors
But some duller – though handy
Only words
Often helpful – sometimes banal
Orphaned once
Oaken apartments – now their home
Kept dry
Kind use prolongs life – no spills
Straight spines
Skins – some hard, some soft

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Independence Day

I originally posted this early last year but in honor of the yearly celebration of independence as a nation, I thought it appropriate to consider what it means to be free. In order to honor all the sacrifices made by our families and our forefathers, lets remember to keep working to fight for freedom and equality for our fellow human beings however that might take shape.

Sonnet 1

When men began to think of freedom’s call
We searched the world – the land, the sea, the sky
And then we pledged, each one, to give our all
To this, our land, where freedom then must lie
But then discovered new complexities
To free ourselves, from others we must steal
And rights for us means others on their knees
With someone else’s neck beneath our heel
One problem solved but two pop up instead
And one man’s freedom creeps on top of yours
But rule too much and liberty is dead
While corpses pile up on foreign shores
A place of independence – power-blind
Has only ever lived within man’s mind

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Who Said I’m an Expert? – A spoken word poem

*Note: This is a work in progress. It is intended to be listened to and “performed” rather than read silently. Even so, I hope the exploration of the conflict of a young university student studying Bible will offer some food for thought. Enjoy.*

Two years of general courses on this and that plus
Two years of intensive religion
Of The life of Jesus,
Old Testament, New Testament
Daniel, Revelation, Archaeology’s evidence
Exegesis, Ethics
And all I know now is what I don’t.

Generations two levels higher
Asking questions as though I were somehow
More in touch with God
Which shouldn’t be odd since with
All that education I must know
What did God mean when He said
That He created evil and darkness
And yet God is love?
Isn’t he harmless as a dove?
They ask with a touch of reverence
As though I might answer with benevolence
In my position on a suddenly erupted pedestal
Upon which I teeter
Trying not to stammer

And the generation one step up
Over weekend lunch or Sunday brunch
Asks with curiosity and diffidence
How can we come to grips with the place of women
When even the church can’t get it straight
Did God actually mean it or was He just catering
To a faulty and misguided culture?
And my roll sticks in my throat
As I try not to choke on the mental panic
Of the sudden responsibility
I never wanted

And my own generation of peers
Asks with candor and conflict
Torn between What They Know and
The sudden ocean of desperate other choices
How do we relate to our beloved peer who
Is engaged to another young man and still
Agree with the whole abomination issue
Because you are supposed to, aren’t you?

And generations from top to bottom inquire
How do we deal with church members who
Haven’t seen our version of the light?
How can you help me fashion these texts
Into deadly weapons to beat the ever-living
Ignorance out of their saintly minds?
Bless their hearts
Only because we care about
Their spiritual walk of course.
Can you give it to us straight from the source
Language? It sounds better that way
If you can teach us to say
A word or two in Hebrew
Or Greek.
Blessed are the meek.

They don’t understand
How inadequate I feel
How much my own opinion flexes from week to weak
How hard it can be to really interpret
How much context has to do with it
How I have to struggle and grapple with
Emotional responses of my own; how
Sometimes I don’t even want people to
Tie me to religious types because
I feel the pain of injustice in religions name
And my heart bleeds

My silent voice screams in frustration
Yes. God ultimately created the potential for evil
It’s called free choice
And God takes responsibility for everything since
Nothing exists outside Himself
And God made women as the first solution to the first problem
Of loneliness of the first man
And ordination is a new thing
Women can do more than sing
For special music and teach babies
Even in patriarchal Israel God picked some ladies
To be prophets! More like ministers today than the priests were.
The average person isn’t male
Woman is the standard model in the womb
So don’t shove us back into the tomb
Of silence and ignorance

And same-sex issues are still mine-fields
There is no text that yields a solution that
Balms the ache in my heart on their behalf.
The Bible almost never talked about it
Can we just leave it alone?
Love is beautiful no matter the shape
You think your phrases are tolerant
But they can sound an awful lot like hate
And while I can’t fully relate
Loss is loss and pain is pain
And the blood of the murdered bond
Stains your hands

No! I won’t tell you how to hurt other people
With the word of God
It takes more than a word to understand Hebrew or Greek culture
And I will NOT act like a cherry-picking vulture
Cleaning up the out of context biblical waste
Dropped left and right
By the left and the right
Turning pearls into excrement

The little me that lives in my mind
Screams and weeps and huddles next to the rock
That I can barely feel.

I put down my fork
And swallow my dinner roll
I choke out a
Carefully diluted
Slowly explained
Pre-digested spiritual meal.
They nod solemnly
Certain that they’ve got it now
Spiritual ammo reloaded for another scrap
And while they take their intellectual nap
I sit alone in a dark room
Waiting for God to show up so I don’t have to

Despite all the theological theorem
I like Him better than the most
Thoroughly exegeted passage
And when the going gets rough
His arms are the safest place
To protect me from the rest of
His precious people
And my own meager education.


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Procrastination II

Cerebral malaise commences
symptomatic apperception emerges.

Preeminent circumambulating ruminations
displace exigent necessities
quietude metamorphosed linear intervals
wide-eyed possibilities
surrogate normative postulates.

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Procrastination I

If once we put off that which must be done
Then twice putting off becomes easier still.
The reward of leisure, meant to be won,
If indulged in before work, (ubiquitous fact) loses its thrill.

And worse yet we find, a consistent truth,
Play is indulged in first. The task that’s require’d
Is never complete. But folly of youth
Insists on believing, (against all reason) that which is desire’d

Is best when free…

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The green hills let their shawls of mist
hang around their sloping shoulders
and hold wild-berries and roots
in folds of their garments
as they bend down to wash their feet
in the brown river water
scattered in uneven rows along its many forks.

Their warrior husbands standing
shoulder to shoulder in great rows
guard the sunset in granite armor
with the mightiest among them
in helms of shining white.

Their children wade in the ocean
blowing bubbles in hot stone
and building rock castles
that peak out of the water
piling colorful under-water flower beds
in rings around themselves.

All giving shape and strength
to flat and windswept barrens
for smaller creatures
helpless against the unkind jests
of the currents and wind.

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How’s it going? – A spoken word poem

An attitude of platitude.
You want my eternal gratitude?
Then destroy the next flappy-wristed bimbo who thinks she’s got the latitude to chirp,
“It was meant to be”
In response to any number of things -
A phrase that just rings with insincerity.
I know she either never listens or doesn’t care.
Then when I give her the icy stare
She rejoins with,
“But don’t you know? Good things come to those who wait.”

Alright, I’ll take the bait.

You really believe in some cosmic fate?
Some idea that since you can’t relate it must be destiny?
So if your life is out of control and you need an explanation,
Try to rummage up a little concentration
And apply this dopey philosophy to every situation.
What about the girls who can’t get an education
Without some bullet sensation going through their face?

Was that meant to be?

What about the mother with the little hungry son?
Every day is a battle to be won against starvation and one day it wins.
She waited while you wallowed in platitudes,
Sated on the notion that your life will all work out for you
Because the fates of the cosmos are fluffy pink bunnies
Who just have to notice you to love you.
That’s funny because she waited until death took her first
With its unquenchable thirst for life.
Where are her good things? Didn’t she wait long enough?

Oh wait. Life is tough.

How’s that for a platitude?
Or is that the wrong attitude?
So now, my dear ignorant friend,
I contend that life is much too complicated
To be so simply stated
In tired old clichés that were outdated
Before the dinosaurs expired.
So before your eyes forget how to focus
And your mind finds a new locus in which to reside instead of your head
Allow me to retract my discourse and answer this instead –

Just fine thanks. Couldn’t be better!

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Behind the Sign

       Behind the sign where the pale yellow light from the parking lot cannot see is a beckoning shadow. I slip from my room – once a cheap motel, now my temporary housing – behind the locked gate of the courtyard. From the rail to the roof – the most dangerous part of the trip. The slanted section of the roof with plastic skylight covers. Roof tiles lay loosely over support beams, held up by a sheet of tar paper, waiting for a misstep. I slip silently across, beam to beam, once again unnoticed by the all-seeing moon. Now familiar voices float up softly to my perch. One is vivacious, strong, sparkling, baritone. The other mirrors – eager to please, bass. I see them there, smoking together in the parking lot. Talking. Laughing.  I sit on the pebbles of the flat roof behind the sign – listening and watching. Cheerful complaining, lustful tales, proud boasts, hopeful predictions, helpful advice, affectionate scuffling. They spend time feeling – living and practicing life. Nobody ever thinks to look up and I keep to my shadow. I can see and not be seen, this much I can control.

        I watch as Life drives away and his Shadow sneaks back through a window. I try to feel pleasure in my superior knowledge of stealth and disdain for his lack of sophistication – but I feel nothing. I try to feel noble, thinking of heroic or tragic characters in books and poems that romantically brood alone: on a cliff’s peak, on a castle wall, standing nobly on a grassy hill. What a lie. Being alone doesn’t feel like anything at all and there is nobody there to see it – neither to admire nor to pity. I experimentally poke at my heart-wound hoping I will remember how to feel. The painful pleasure tells me that yes, I still live. I cling to the feeling for as short as it will last. I try to make tears but I forgot how and so I give it up. I embrace the windy cold until my skin turns numb. The locked gate below me can’t hold me in – only my own icy prison can. I wonder idly to myself: how long until I shatter – how long until even the pain forsakes me for someone worthy of humanity? How much longer can I sit behind the sign?

The shadow seems exposed somehow. I notice the stiffness in my joints as I rise to a crouch. It doesn’t feel enough. Across the roof, onto the walkway – quickly, quietly. I reach the reality of my room. Its searing fingers wrap around me, dragging me inside, threatening pain which I cannot control.

I succumb once again to the routine without rest.

See me watching the sunrise and sipping tea. I am enjoying life.
And one and two and…
Watch me eat my breakfast and smile to my tablemates. I am accessible.
Step: left-right-left.
Observe how I join the group in our activities. I am fine.
And reach and hold.

  I make them believe even as they make me dance and another glacial day grates by, much longer than the last. I am a void – and I wait for the darkness to test the thickening ice; to see if I am still alive inside. Behind the sign.

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The Old Pumpkin Patch (a cascading poem)

Where once the great big pumpkins grew
Cracked concrete – the field’s new disguise
I like to walk and wander through
Behind my squinched shut eyes

Remember hayrides ’round the field
And startled bird flocks flew
Above the scattered autumn’s yield
Where once the great big pumpkins grew

In summertime the orange gourds bow
Under green dress hide from prying eyes
In winter hidden under snow but now
Cracked concreted – the field’s new disguise

This sidewalk is the packed dirt path
Where crunchy red leaves blew
On autumn days with chilling wind
I like to walk and wander through

I’m a scampering pumpkin scout once more
The field before me lies
Picking the perfect pumpkin out
Behind my squinched shut eyes

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