February 25, 2013

Yours Not Mine (Unless with Yours)

Seek the LORD while he may be found,  
call upon him while he is near;  
let the wicked forsake their way,  
and the unrighteous their thoughts;  
let them return to the LORD, 
that he may have mercy on them,  
and to our God, 
for he will abundantly pardon.  
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.  
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
- Isaiah 55:6-9 

My thoughts get tangled in neurons, lost at dopamined synapses
frenzied as they striate my cerebrum and trip through my dreams

Your thoughts penetrate midnight in sublime linear streaks
and turn nighttime into stippled light and placid shade

My ways are a crapshoot with loaded dice mismatched 
so two always rolls with two and I go bust and martini drunk

Your ways are counterpoint and harmony that lull and then stun
with intervals and variations turning notes into soulful healing

Your thoughts are not my thoughts so the world is thought clear
mindfulness fills the cosmos and even my own skull-trapped mind

Your ways are not my ways so there may be a way yet to wade my way
through this river of crosses and freestyle to Ezekiel’s tree-lined shore

February 19, 2013

Deep and Terrifying Darkness in which Covenant Comes

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir." But the word of the LORD came to him, "This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir." He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess." But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.

It’s the moment when you see all the stars
in one eye’s retna and you count up
from Betelgeuse to googolplex 
and fall into the universe swallowed whole

It’s the time when you hiked the Grand Canyon
on the Hermit Trail and your foot slipped off
the thin concave path high above the unforgiving river and
you  grabbed a sapling’s single branch placed just in reach

It’s the dream when you envisioned the smoking fire pot
and the flaming torch promenading through
the slain and split heifer, goat, and ram and see
you are still whole and blessed and counted among the stars

It’s the eternal now in which you still your twitchy mind
and in the stillness a tremulous quiet and in the quiet
a numinous nothing and in the nothing the one who creates
out of it celestial and terrestrial wonderment like Sirius and you

February 14, 2013

The Wanderer

When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, "Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us." When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God: "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me." You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.
- Deuteronomy 26:1-11

From Aramea to Los Angeles to San Antonio
he wandered until something said get landed

he bought a condo once in Manhattan at 84th
but locked the door one day and walked away for good

settled down in Indiana for a spell on the prairie
but got the itch to hitchhike down the wildflower highway

got married and had his sons and thought
that meant they all had to be rooted like old vines

read one day that his grandfather never owned land
and they told legends about his messy masculine life

heard his father say that his worst year of life
was 1954 when he mortgaged his unfettered joy

chanted in liturgy on Sunday that all his faith ancestors
were wanderers the likes of Abraham and Sarah

walked the via crucis in one holy week and found
his feet less stuck to the clay earth below

February 10, 2013

Ash Thursday

He did the yearly black solemn ritual
and got smeared  and humbled though he
didn’t like it much with the flecks falling down
in his eyelashes and the soul’s grief exposed so

He got home and stared at his conundrummed face
for five minutes give or take in the bathroom mirror
it wrecked him to be so humiliated, so mortified
he washed away the ashen cross and dreamed of dying

He woke up Thursday and after peeing and scratching
looked in the mirror and there it was like a Mardi Gras drunken tattoo
his forehead graffitied, black, sooty,
haunting him he wore it all day like an unbandaged wound

At bedtime that night he washed and slept like a storm-tossed boat
woke up to his sunrise reflection, his sleet eyes squinted
again it was back, his skin tagged with midnight streaks
and he walked the day mortal through to his marrow

After that first Ash Thursday and Ash Friday
and Ash Tomorrow, Ash Next Week
Ash March, Ash Autum, Ash Solstices
never a day went by when he didn’t see it, let it have its way

Never a day went by thereafter that he didn’t
rise to bless himself with Wednesdays words:
remember you are dust and to dust you shall return
and every day then on he was his free earthy self until he died