January 30, 2015

Spells and Tricks

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching — with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

I could take a coin from behind your ear
shake a spoon until it bends elastic
make cards spin and float and swing around

but you would know and suspect and guess
there was glue or string or some other trickery
and you would smile and expect nothing else of me

So what of Jesus and the spirit-angst synagogue man
some ancient incantation tossed out like streamers
then release and freedom and the enchantment is done

But say your mind was broken in three places
and I said be healed and know love 
and comfort trickled down from hair to heel as oil

Say your tumor grew from the last banging scan
and I held you and dripped tears on your shoulder
together we stared into the death in both our eyes

until it didn’t matter or it did but not with such aching
then the spell of be healed and of course know love 
and you were whole and embraced even malignancy

then maybe you would know that magic words work
and we are not fools to trust the magnanimous universe
the hidden strings and soulful glue and trickery of love

January 3, 2015

Training to See Stars

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage."
Matthew 2:1-2

It may have been a long course of study over years
books and lectures and experimentation and dissertations
or perhaps it was a week-long seminar at the Hilton in
the ballroom with Iranian style carpet and crystal chandeliers

I suppose it could have been a drugstore pamphlet
picked up on the way to some other happening but
I’m guessing it was more like jiu-jitsu and grappling
and training on the ground with slow accreditation

but somehow those magi were trained to see the light
and when the light came and no one else comprehended
they were ready and wide-eyed, awestruck and epiphanied
caught up in the journey of life on the holy unmapped road

and you and I, what training, what discipline and diligence
have we done when we look at the sky in longing and wonder
or in each other’s eyes wanting and groping for some twinkling
some swirling Van Gogh star of divine guidance for the passage

December 19, 2014

No Angel Came

Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. - Luke 1:38

She was eight months full and plump
wrapped in a pink faux fur jacket
sat ringless on the front stoop
reading Seventeen for survival

he was listless in bed tucked in
by the gravity of his phobic mind
headphones buffering the noise
of guns and street and mother

unlike timeworn stories of glowing envoys
befuddled virgins unwed
clear signals of holy plans
and playbooks already drawn

no angel came to make good news
of your plot or mollify your pain
no messages fluttered down
from the clouds like ticker tape

so here is your Gabriel with the word
your hushed heart needs from beyond:
fear not, drop shame, stand tall,
carry on, good courage, sing out

you may not be Maryesque in blue
and embrace your story loud and strong
but something will be birthed from you
and only you can labor it to life for this world

God has chosen you for some essential
tinted dot in the panoramic pointillist canvas
so now let it out, your humble yowl,
your magnifying, audacious, wanton praise