Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When I Find my Voice

[It's been a long time since I've written a poem. Normally I'd take more editing time than I have with this poem, but I'm anxious. Also this is a style I try and avoid, so I didn't want to take much more time with it. Hope you enjoy, tell me what you think]

When I find my voice
it's usually off key and shaky,
but I throw it out there loud with my toe tapping.
People in the pews scoot away from me
or smile awkwardly, I smile back.

When I find my voice
I hope it won't be to late
to ask questions
to apologize
to show the rocks
who's louder.

When I find my voice
I doubt it will be the 4th of July, Christmas or Easter.
I doubt it will be when I win the lottery
or when the Seahawks win the Superbowl.
I'm afraid, I will probably be next to a hospital bed
hands clasped together pleading and sobbing,
or maybe, by some divine mercy,
I'll find somewhere I've looked a thousand time
under the couch cushions, next to the coffee maker
or some place in Psalms.

When I find my voice
I don't think I'll say anything new
I'll probably say things we've all heard before
with a few exclamation points added on.

When I find my voice
it will be a call and response,
an echo of a bigger voice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Shopping

A dragon
giant and green
with huge black claws
toothy gentle smile
wearing a Santa Clause beard

standing next to
a body builder lamb
covered with bad-ass tattoos.

There's a thought bubble
containing a question mark
coming from the dragon.

The dragon's claw
tears deep into body tissue
chunks of bloody flesh falling to the ground
as he reaches into his chest cavity.

The dragon holds his prize,
a still beating heart
topped with a ribbon.

He holds it out to the lamb,
"Merry Christmas!"

Monday, December 8, 2008


[Second poem written today, woot. Blog spot messed with my line breaks though]

Sitting in the Chinese place near my house
with three of my room mates, I'm beginning to realize
I'm no good at waiting. General Tso's chicken
will get to me, but every time the door to the kitchen
moves an inch, I start salivating. 5 minutes turns into 10
turns into 15 could turn into anything: a month
a year, hell it could be another 2000 years.
HOW LONG MUST I WAIT? Bobby has a final at 1
for Gods sake, How long?
Every second is torture on an empty stomach.

It's December 7th, and as a history major
I know it's an important date, but I can never remember
just what happened. Was it D-Day, or the Attack on Pearl Harbor?
Google tells me Pearl Harbor. A man at my church was at Pearl Harbor
when the attacks happened. I like the way he tells the story, "Well,
everybody had to be somewhere, I was on the John." I wonder
how many of those service men had finished their Christmas shopping.
How many were waiting to go home for holiday leave? I hope it wasn't many.
Had to be a bummer, no Christmas with the family
and on top of that, a fresh new global conflict.

My little cousins are at the age where this season is at full effect.
They can't sit still. Santa is ever at the for front of their minds.
Waiting for Christmas morning is tough for them--but fortunately
they don't have to wait the full time. Christmas Eve, they open
at least a few gifts. A sneak peak. It makes me smile, even though
they can be quite frustrating in the run up to opening time.
It makes me smile, because though the presents are divorced
from the traditional meaning behind Advent, the effect is still working.
They're waiting, growing ancy and excited--anticipating future awesomeness.

It's Advent, and I'm trying to do it right. Trying to look back
so I can wait, so I can look forward. Look back on Immanuel
and the nativity to look forward to Christ coming in power. Looking back,
into a stable and manger to look forward to golden streets
to tears wiped away, to unwrapping that big present
I've had my eye on, the one the perfect size to be anything.
I'm looking back to a morning star to look forward
to that everlasting, great getting up morning when
I won't have to wait.

It's Advent and I'm struggling to do it right.
I'm looking back, but my eyes are wandering.
The girl with the Seahawk sweatshirt, my gas gage,
the numbers on my scale and on my pay check.
I'm having a hard time not looking forward
to bills, oil changes, new semesters and new papers.
I'm trying to take the time to wait
to climb the tower and keep watch.

I wonder where the magi were when they saw the star.
If they had just stepped out to the out house, and noticed
something new on the horizon. What did their wives think
when they told them they were going on a trip with their
work friends to find some new King? I bet they were caught off gaurd.
Like the man at my church, on the John, thinking about a million other things:
the weather, dinner, business, family issues, and then BOOM
there's a new star. Shepherds had to have shit themselves
when the chorus of angels appeared to tell them
God had come.

It's Advent, and it's time for me to look back
so I can look forward to a time when I'll be taken-off gaurd.
So I can look forward to that great moment when, throughout the world,
every pair of underwear will need to be changed. It's time for me to remember
a single mother and her fiancee trying to understand what had just happened,
so that I can look forward to a new morning
when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

The wait is indeed well with my soul.

Failed Negotiations--an infection

[So I posted an infection Shane Guthrie wrote on one of my poems, so at the prompting of Graham Isaac, I wrote one based on one of his. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.]

(Shane's Poem)
Some days it feels like
I'm burning down a forest
Then planting a tree

My infection (failed Negotiations)

Somedays it feels like
corduroy, others it feels like linoleum
the weather seems to have an affect
it usually hangs out near my knees.
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is.

I've been tracking it
through cities, valleys,
mountains and deserts.
It's huge--I saw it once,
fangs like javelins
sledge-hammer claws
and a real mean look
on it's half dozen glazed over eyes.
I've tracked it here, to this wood
I don't think I can kill it
but I won't let it hide--
I'm burning down a forest
leaving the thing to rest
in the embers.

I think it's an urge
to leave, to run,
to hit restart, to die.
It's 2 am puking
in an effort to exorcise
a night of Caucasians
or boxed wine.
It's there, sleeping
restless--tossing and turning
just an inch under conscious.

I'm digging a hole
deep and narrow,
right down through my esophagus
straight through to my knees.
Tomorrow I'll throw it down
wait to here it hit bottom,
pile dirt, concrete,
fire and hope on top.
I'm digging a hole
then planting a tree
to trap it, to give it a gravestone
that will have flowers in spring
and apples in fall.
I'll let it suffocate and hopefully
die in a place that I will forget.

This is a failed negotiation
with a self that won't compromise
or listen to reason.
This isn't a solution
it's a last resort.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Coolest Cracker Ever

I've been taking communion for a real long time. When I was little I watched the plate of broken saltines crackers pass by and wondered why we ate them at church. Saltine crackers were my favorite crackers and were the main reason I looked forward going to my Grandmas, that and the blackberries. My parents told me I shouldn't eat the crackers because I liked them, they told me I should eat the crackers when I understood something I didn't understand.

When I was old enough to understand I liked saltines much less. I've taken communion countless times with varied results. I remember tearing up once as I dipped a papery wafer in grape juice because God loved me, but I also remember drinking a little cup of creamer when there wasn't enough grape juice to go around and joking about Jesus' blood tasting like Irish Cream. I had my first taste of alchohol taking communion, nearly threw up. It's the only religious ritual I participate in regularly and that throws me off a bit.

I have other rituals, I think most people do, but none of these are as lofty: like when I turn on the faucet after I pee so people think I'm washing my hands, or checking my alarm clock every night exactly three times. These may be stretching the definition of ritual, but stretching is good, it's how we grow. I remember when I played football, before games every player would hit a particular sign as we ran onto the field. I think the sign was something about the field being closed at dusk, but everyone hit it before games. It had absolutely nothing to do with playing well, it wasn't even superstitious, we just did it. It was a completely empty ritual.

These empty rituals scare me because they make me feel like an actor. When I take communion, I don't want to get into character. It's difficult not to try and get into character for church, everyone dresses nice, stained glass and funny things we Christians have been doing for a millenia. I don't like putting up a front so I often wear sweat pants and old t-shirts. This gets me through most of the service, but when it comes time to take communion I often find myself putting on face that tells people I'm thinking very hard, because this means a lot to me, I'm spiritual.

Right now, I want to write a solution. Something sweeping and beautiful. Tying bits of my experience together to make sense of my struggles. Unfortunately, I am, as of yet, unaware of any secret solutions. The answers, if you want to call them that, I've found are frustrating. Faith is more a decision than a feeling. At times it can feel like I'm just acting, like I'm just practicing a script made up for me, but faith ought not be dependent and feelings, comfort or vague, inarticulate doubt. If the connection with God I am looking for is a warm feeling in my stomach, than my faith will be either empty and bitter or a superstition.

My parents were right, when I eat that wafer, and drink that juice I have to understand what communion is about. It's not an empty ritual. I need to remember why we Christians get together and act kind of strange for an hour each Sunday.

On the night he was betrayed he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

It's about remembering. The feelings will come when they come. Sometimes I have to be content singing terrible songs, with people who are tone-deaf, eating stale wafers with bad grape juice and sitting through long, meandering, convoluted sermons. I have to be content because it is about more than good songs and tasty crackers: its about something that I couldn't accomplish on my own and the person who accomplished it for me, namely Jesus. And if the pictures I've seen are accurate, which I think is a good bet, he's about the coolest cracker ever.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Women At Well

[old poem, now with new and improved punctuation]

it was hot,
the kind of hot that made sitting in the shade
complaining about the heat with no shirt on and
sucking on a High Life
a full day.

the kind of heat they tell geriatrics
and small children to avoid.
the kind of heat that leads to day dreams
of sleeping in a king size bed of Otterpops.

if He had driven out here,
there would be marks on His legs
from where he peeled them off
of vinyl seats.

this was the middle nowhere,
twelve miles from the nearest inn
slurpees still a couple millennia away.

He needed a drink.

right now,
He wished he didn’t live in a desert
He wondered why he had taken up the company
of so many slack jawed yokels
blue collar tools with small vocabularies.

they told Him to wait
apparently they forgot
who the leader of their operation was
he was the Hannibal to their A-team.
a fact they'd do well to remember.

they told Him to wait
because apparently there was
A woman of ill repute
A lady with loose morals

as if He would be embarrassed.
they were an uppity bunch,

if the son of Man was thirsty
the son of Man was going to get a drink,
even if the well was in the middle of a brothel
frequented by Hitler, Ted Bundy, Nero
and the defensive line of the 1985 Bears.

it was a hot day and He was thirsty
He was going to get a drink of water.