Blackstar

Blackstar

They, whoever they are, tacked on
One final second to the end
Of the year. Hateful 2016 skips

Death for one more beat, unlike
Prince, Leia, thousands of rebels
And Syrian civilians, Bowie,

Black men, gay men, hispanic
Gay men, trans-men and women,
Women, water, the democratic process

And any sense of dignity. Lucky
Bastard. I–and I’m certain I’m not
Alone–want to get rowdy drunk

(As is the American way) and break
Down sobbing at what’s passed and
What fearful unknown is to come. But

I won’t. And you? Don’t. Instead
Grab that extra fucking second
We’ve been forced through

By the powers that be that have no
Power to speak of, and live out the year
In full-throated knowing what is

Is now. Be loud about the year that took
so much. Be louder about the hopeful
who-knows? wildness of what’s next.

Press right up against the false edge
Of time, every nerve ending you
are tingling, as one we all contract

into a massive blackstar, screaming
For everything we’re worth, streaming
Full of light into the new.

That final second, overwhelmed
By such bright resolve, expends one last
breath and then explodes.

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longing

longing

i come upon the white flower

in the green field and stop

not now having to do anything

more than this.

the flower is present to

all that is: wind, the soft peel

of the sun, the grass.

and so i am in this moment

the soft green slip

of stalk, the white crown

and pale center

of everything. i am the flower all

the way to my roots.

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eldertree

eldertree

outside my side door
next to the stoop
is one last red
leaf on an upper branch

the others have gone

i thank her
each morning
for the bright reminder

not all is lost
at once
but stays vibrant
a little longer

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‘the morning after’

‘the morning after’

the morning after, bleary eyed

and tasting bitter, pondering the dream

that seemed so real there it was

in the kitchen. the brick. glass shards

like spilled salt. the christmas cactus

broken in the sink. a cool breeze

carrying the smell of rain. hand-sewn curtains

hung up on jagged edges. thick, old

and crumbling, pulled from under a tarp

in a backyard or a construction site

or dug up in the dark, an unsuspecting patio now

a mangled, muddy checkerboard.

reddish, a little chalky. good heft. imagine

the arc it might make in the rain. the library,

the QFC, Kay’s corner bar, the Papa John’s

and hardware store all made of the same.

brick on brick. now here in the kitchen.

blankly staring back. in the middle of the fever

dream were many muted voices. desperate cries for

help not quite discernible. as if in a locked room

or in the middle of a river or just under the rush

of a passing semi. a dream within a dream.

and now the brick. and the sounds outside

coming clearer.

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Deplora-bowl Conversations

tacoI couldn’t sleep last night (again). I was thinking about what it will be like for so many families and friends over the holidays, the awkward negotiating, what to say/not say. How to come together when there’s so much to divide us.

And so I made a thing in the middle of the night. It’s called Deplora-bowl Conversations..

It’s not politically charged or even all that original, and it has kind of a dumb name, but I offer it here because I couldn’t not.

Download it, share it, adapt it, use it.

We need to start talking to each other again. Here’s one way we might start.

 

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Some Catharsis

Some Catharsis
 
Raise your right hand
As if in pledge. Lay it down
In the right hand of another..
 
Grip in firm solidarity. Don’t worry.
Every secret meaning will pass
Between you.
 
Release ever so slightly. Glide
Electric fingers past the belly
Of the palms, expecting
 
An infinite moment caught
On the fingertips: the bright snap
Of grief given voice, sudden
 
Eruption of sound arcing
At arm’s length between two bodies
Craving some sign to find their way by.
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“love the ambiguity of the holy”

“love the ambiguity of the holy”

love the ambiguity of the holy

trickster in the seams

of the world. making all things shudder

at her passing, wondering just when his padded foot

will fall. howl and run off to make us see

what they’d been on about: the moon is quartered

and hung just so. lapping up the waters!

don’t flinch. don’t map the dark

bruises. bask in the light reflected.

memorize the feel of it, invisible

on your skin.

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Loving Voldemort and Donald Trump

Loving Voldemort and Donald Trump

I’ve been reading recently (read: obsessed with) the Harry Potter books. Remember those? I somehow missed them in their heyday, and as grad school is a pretty intense slog-through-the-real, I needed an alternate reality to inhabit now and again. Call it escapism, call it dissociation; I call it Pottermore.

Anyway, as part of my obsession, I’ve found my way to a podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Run by Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, two humanist theologians out of Harvard, they treat each chapter of each book in the septet (octet? is that new one canonical?) as if it were a sacred text; that is, they read closely, look for thematic threads and questions, and cultivate spiritual practices around the text. There have been episodes on hope, white privilege, friendship and rebellion, for example. You should totally check it out; I need someone to geek out with.

At the end of their first season, unpacking the the final chapter, the theme for the episode was love. They waxed on about Harry, Ron and Hermione’s love for one another and Harry’s mother’s love being a “protective force” against evil. All well and good. But when they engaged the moment (SPOILER ALERT) that Harry and Voldemort finally come face to face, the hosts offered a take on Voldemort that I quibbled (Quirrel’d?) with.

Quoting from the text, they talked as if Voldemort is unable to love; that he is so deeply evil that he can’t love, he can only control through fear.

I was a bit startled. The sure casting of Voldemort’s inability to love struck me as, well, unloving. And so I began to wonder: it may be that now, in his current, twisted form, he is unable to love, but was that always true? What if Voldemort’s lust for power and control doesn’t originate there; what if it comes out of something much deeper: shame.

And even deeper than that, what if Voldemort’s core shame, his ur-shame, that leads to scheming and power-grabbing, following of Dark Magic and ruling by fear and violence actually comes out of a place of desiring love?

What if, at his core, Voldemort desperately longs to love and to be loved?
If you can’t abide another slog into politics, feel free to simply ponder the previous thought experiment. But here’s the connection: I can’t help but wonder about Voldemort’s true “driving nature” without jumping to Trump (and not in an ironic, meme-creating sort of way). I really do wonder: as base and vile as the things Trump does and says, as violent and fear-mongering and un-Christian as he is, as much as I don’t want him to be elected to office, I have to wonder: what’s with this guy?

The narcissistic rage Trump routinely and unapologetically displays is no secret (some have even ventured to offer a potential diagnosis); but what’s hidden under all that? I have to believe–or at least entertain the thought–that he’s longing, desperately, for the one thing he can’t seem to give or get: real love and human connection.

And wedded to that drive, I think, must lurk shame. Shame at himself, his family, the life he’s led and, perhaps, the life he wanted but could never attain as recently pointed out by real-life Dumbledore Garrison Keillor. How do I know this? I don’t know, per se, but I have a sense from my own story of what it might be like to be this guy, just a little. I know the shame and sadness that lurks in my dark corners, and how my desperate longing for love and connection comes out: addiction, anger, spite. Maybe not to Trumpian levels, but Trump wasn’t always the way he is now: he’s grown into it, cultivated it, because it’s what he knew. It’s where he felt safest. It somehow kept him alive.

So I know a little of what it might be to be Donald Trump, as I’m willing to bet, we all do, if we look deep enough. And so as I wonder I find I have an small sliver of empathy I can look at when all feels lost.
But even more: as someone who’s trying to make sense of Jesus, I feel more than just curious. I actually feel compelled to follow this line of inquiry. If I’m meant to practice resurrection, I’m asked o to open my mind, loathe as I might be, to consider The Donald a child of God, too. To be absolutely clear: this doesn’t excuse his actions or choices; those are his and his alone and he should be held accountable. As much as I am called to consider Donald Trump in love, I am also considered to call upon justice. They are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are tightly bound. So I will resist and decry the violence he has done and the fear he mongers. But I can’t ignore that the “way he is” doesn’t come out of a vacuum; it comes out of a certain context, just like I do, bearing both darkness and light.

Because the alternative is Donald Trump just becomes another Voldemort: a cartoon villain I can root for, or even help, to be destroyed. He’s not real, he’s not worth being curious about. He stops being a human being, whose thriving requires giving and receiving love, and becomes just a phony reality TV host with bad hair, a twisted wizard living a half-life in someone else’s body.

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Persistence

Persistence

I might have sat for hours

Watching black bird swoop

And drop his prize, opening

The sealed shell on the stones.

Swoop and drop. Swoop and drop.

Click.   Click.

It is one small sound

of hope. Click.

     Click.

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