Thursday, December 31, 2009

Go On

This is my prayer for the people
All the people (and the other people too)
In between the times:
To the place where time won't turn
We will turn and go on
Turn and go on
Turn and go on
We will be the people
We have got to turn on
For the first and the final time
We are resolved
To avoid the automatic ceremonies of destruction
We are convicted
With the evidence of a cosmic spring
We are converted
In the blinding light of homeless eyes
When the aphrodisiacal scent of news begins to tease
We will be chaste
We will be poor
When our hungers urge a little more
And when we are called down the mountain
To burn
To drown
To be swallowed up
To evaporate
We will obey
Because life is stronger than pain
And love is greater than wrath
When our very bodies resonate with the overtones of war
We will produce silence
We will defy aggression when it comes disguised as liberation
Violence dressed as duty
Greed cloaked in prosperity
Vengeance tarted with justice
There will never be another word about nature
Detached from nature
Not another word of loveless truth
From pious morons
We will say no prayers that we cannot answer
God is watching us
Watching in us
Hearing us and in us
And makes the watching-hearing itself
And God says
This is not the first night
You weren't there on the first night
And it won't return
It turned to go on
Turned to go on
Turned to go on
There is a new first day
And it's got to turn on
For the first and final time
When there will never be another tomorrow
When the present hour is as precious as the first
When the child that runs around us
Will not grow old
But become a child again.


Yesterday I sat
Sleepless in a cold sunrise

Isn't it funny
My world turns a thousand miles an hour
The light speeds over eleven million miles a minute
But the sun rises so slowly
If I don't sit still
The earth and sun can't catch me

Today at sunrise
I was in another world
I was fast asleep

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Out, Angels, Out

Out, angels, out -- into the world:
With your banners now unfurled,
Bearing the name your maker gave you,
Sharing the word you know will save you;
Out, angels, out: alow, above,
Through the narrow gate of love.

Women, be strong, be fierce, be proud:
No more wait to be allowed!
You are the chasers of your pleasure,
Making the moment, setting the measure;
Out, angels, out: alow, above,
On the rounding road of love.

Children, become the light you are,
Carried from the morning star!
Welcome and talk to every stranger;
Your daily bread is in the manger;
Out, angels, out: alow, above,
From the rising sun of love.

Men, come at last -- your will is done!
Halt the dogged ring you run!
Glory and truth need no defender;
Peace will come when you surrender;
Out, angels, out: alow, above,
Cross the perfect way of love.

Angels, appear, unclothe the soul,
Body, spirit naked, whole!
You are the sign you dreamed of seeing,
Hope fulfilled in your own being;
Out, angels, out: alow, above,
Down the bending path of love.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bethlehem Is Waiting

Hollow breezes blow beyond the sleeping ear
Quiet blizzards bury up the year
Sinners marching for salvation now stand still
Stranded in a city on a hill

Gilded trees and roasting fires and merry song
Wishful things to speed the night along
Travelers wear the way to their ancestral home
Longing to remain, resigned to roam

No more reminiscing for the old time gone
See, I do a new thing in the old time
Bethlehem is waiting where a child leaps for me
Bethlehem is waiting, young mother

Touches, scents and flavors, warm undimming light
Joys you kissed and lifted into flight
I am under every word you strain to say
Praying for another yesterday

I'll reveal a story from the new time found
Uneffacing glory in the new time
Bethlehem is waiting in a memory of me
Bethlehem is waiting, dear mother.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sneaking Suspicion

I've got a sneaking suspicion, gone straight to my head,
Straight to my head
Got a sneaking suspicion, gone straight to my head,
Straight to my head
Got to beat it back, or it'll ruin me half for dead

Made a deal with the darkness when the sun went down,
When the sun went down
Made a deal with the darkness when the sun went down,
When the sun went down
Said "Take my soul but leave me this little town"

Saw the good times going bad,
Everybody's luck soon or later ends
Saw the good times going bad,
Everybody's luck soon or later ends
If we can't be lovers I don't wanna be your friend

Now I'm wond'rin' how it goes with my precious soul,
With my precious soul
Now I'm wond'rin' how it goes with my precious soul,
With my precious soul
A hundred friends fell in my empty hole

Don't you come too close, oh please, I ain't no good,
No I ain't no good
Don't you come too close, oh please, I ain't no good,
No I ain't no good
There's no point talkin', though you wish we could

But a sneaking suspicion, no won't leave my head,
Won't leave my head
But a sneaking suspicion, no won't leave my head,
Won't leave my head
There's another life to lose when love goes dead

It appears to be a long time, such a lonesome time,
Before the morn
It appears to be a long time, such a lonesome time,
Before the morn
I'm sleeping till the Son of Man gets born.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December Dreams

December is here, but not the freeze
Cloaking the day in early gloom,
Enticing the fragile winter bloom,
Begging us pity the naked trees.
I ambled beclouded in a fume
And dreamed (in a dream that could not be)
You left your right hand, believed in me,
And rested your head. I will assume,
Experiencing what I feel
And knowing that other dreams will come,
They're only projections coming from
My shadow. But if they are not real,
Someone explain how this was done:
I've fallen in love with everyone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mrs. Daniel

I write a song of days to come,
For Mrs. Daniel,

Whose beauty is dawn
And dusk--unmistakable;
Gentle, yet profound.

Forgive me if it's not for me to say;
A smile, seen like the sun, is not a secret,
And her man would not conceal
His gift from God from anyone.
Amen, in fading light I write a song
For Mrs. Daniel, the gracious one,
Protector from the sea.

She speaks to me the sound of settling skies.
Her eyes uplift the day in which I'm dreaming.
Watch her radiate the glow of eager motherhood
Across a humdrum home. Call her Mrs. Daniel,
Lady of ten thousand lakes, a garden, and a church,
A sister to her sisters, and to a city strafed by sin.
She sings a crystal tear of happiness,
She whispers, with her flute, echoes of the new creation,
Woven with the broken bow and splintered spear.
She does not fear the enemy within,
Or the furious circling nations.
Only say, "Be still,"
And then she trembles.
Whitened wonderer walks with hope
And an advent heart of merciful innocence
Past the siren sadness ... and her name is Mrs. Daniel.

June 8, 2003

Sunday, November 29, 2009


She rubbed her tummy like it was a talisman
And she had become a fuzzy monster grape giantess
Pointing to her fruit, her fruit

Everybody wants to pick the grapes
Sweating under the low-hanging moon.

She rubbed her eyes and held her head down
And though she kept her mouth shut,
Before she knew it, she set everybody on fire

And she made sounds you couldn't understand
And they all grabbed her pink and scaly wrist
And they all wanted to slay the snap-dragon
With a gut full of currants

It's no fun picking raisins
Drying in the sun
Flaming from a pool.

I found them guarding the giantess
And sneering at the snap-dragon
Who was already dead.
They were standing on an overgrown hillside
Their feet were tangled in trampled vines.

Whose the sweetness? Whose the greening power?
Woe to those whose loving-kindness lasts but an hour.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An Annunciation

I am your hello
You are my hi
We are overshadowed by the spirit

The earth is your shape and its secrets your fashion
The fire is your hair
The water is your liquid face
The air is in your silence

The word is your body
Space is the width of your smile, light its brightness and darkness
Time is the curve of your lips
Heat is the flicker of your tongue over mine

The sun is your heart
The moon is your soul
The stars are your eyes

We are the galaxy
We are the journey
We are the destination, ours is destiny

Art is your speech, teaching me to see
Music is your sigh, high and soft
Science is your intuition
Beauty is our every act of defiance

Psychology is your impulse
Health is the ring of your laughter
Hope is waiting with you
Home is our faith
Eternity is our perfect embrace

Fear is what you took away from me
Death is a stranger you disarmed with kindness
Night is the thrill of hearing our names over mingled breath
Day is what remains after the night explodes

The past is our invention
The present is our inspiration
The future is our creation
Love is our imagination

The question is irrelevant
The answer is Yes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Callista, goodbye,
Keep open your eyes,
Your future is finally here
It's not what you will but it's still
And it's yours and it's clear
In some other season
Had we governed reason
Our hands and our faces would meet
And the seas you water
Would dry up, my daughter,
The seas never touching our feet.

Most beautiful friend,
The time is the end,
And time has no meaning no more
The forges of fury
Are beating the plowshares to swords
The world has gone wrong
And you know you belong
To an unrevealed age of life
Let bad fall to ruin
And yield to the human,
A new birth of spirit from strife.

The stories they tell
Of heaven and hell
Will diminish and cease to be true
A little revenge on the gods
Who dared wrestle with you
They, the conceited,
They, who deceited,
Could never set you in the stars
Who love themselves only
They deserve to be lonely
And sightless and frozen and far.

But your vindication
Brings no consolation
The beauty you found they have missed
Your flag is unfurled at the top of a world
That does and does not yet exist
Callista, you're turning
Your God, she is yearning
The two of you one and apart
I hear you cry softly
How moving, how costly
To follow the prize of your heart.

O virgin, O mother,
We sing for each other
We watch across infinite space
A harmony passes -- it whispers
In silvery quavers of grace
Much more I would give you
If I could be with you
To ease, to lighten, to share
Your burden, O maiden,
So heavily laden,
That you and you alone must bear.

Callista, goodbye,
Keep open your eyes,
Your future is finally here
It's not what you will but it's still
And it's yours and it's clear
In some other season
Had we governed reason
Our hands and our faces would meet
And the seas you water
Would dry up, my daughter,
The seas never touching our feet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Moon

I saw the new moon--
Could sense its slivery silvery self--
Didn't need the sun to light it....
I'm de-lighted
Deeply, watching, shivering;
Sometimes it hides,
But it is!
And it is today--
I will go rising and hiding, too,
Where it is spacey and anechoic.
Room, room--I will find a vacuum!

Does it make you mad that no one sings of you?
Does it make you sad that no one paints your face?
Are you not the font of sight and sound?

Those who play, they say
The impossibility of silence is the future of music.
I'll add if I may,
The impossibility of darkness is the future of light.

Na na na, hey hey hey,
See how I play?

Moonfall, fall away.
Echoes in shadows betray the day.

You are the new moon
Dear missing one
Flying between me and the sun....
Go on, be gone
With your coy decoys--
I can lie low like you
Or do nothing as you do--
I shall lie high!
You can't see me resigning
Sore and nameless
(O honest silence, O!);
You'll never see me crying.

And though you pull and push and pull,
I'm not bound to the earth
I'll take to the air
And kiss you
Thievishly, feverishly

Good night, new moon.
You will see me soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Night Prayer

Creator and muse
Of my fractured longing,
And inaudible harmony
Of this brittle song,

Mine is the heart you will miss
If you hear when I sigh like this

The more that I speak of your name
The more you ought to be ashamed
That heedless of your call
That after all
The echoes sink into the abyss
You aren't who the saints proclaim
But after all

Appear! Appear!
I need you out here
Sit in the shadows I cast
As I vegetate in some invisible light,

Senseless, poor,
Plugged up and disconnected,
Neither awake nor asleep

Maybe there is nothing I can do
You have crawled into a fish

I wish that you were not
So far away inside of me.

Oh, but for you,
Whatever you wish,
Let it be.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Momentary Prayers

Great day for a ride through Vermont
going to the office.
Life is so good. Seriously. No more studying for a while. Yay!
overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity!
Border Deaths Are Increasing
Go Sox!
purposely avoiding the news today after yesterday’s loss.

please sign and send to your friends
For my Detroit friends ...
happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
It is National Coming Out Day and I pledge to have heartfelt conversations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
Enjoy a day off watching men throw around pigskin with the hubby....

looking for Halloween horror? you may have never heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which i myself just learned of recently. i mean, why would we know about it ... it's only 2 times the size of Texas.

The only thing that makes the Sox losing not ruin my day is the sight of my husband putting a crib together. Five more weeks til our little darling makes a debut!
four weeks from my due date and wondering whether they will go fast or slow.
Maybe it’s time to turn on the heat?

the social net is a matriarchy
marching with the Red Bandana Brigade
hoping Rebecca has a good race, that the DC makes a big difference, and that David and Neil enjoy their wedding!
hipster dad drinking a sparks at the tot lot.
1, 2, Freddy’s coming for You!

having a much needed day to herself
busy turning his life into a story and his stories into a life

We are hoping/trying to recruit some of these leftist marching musicians for Immigration Reform Rallies and Vigils.
Marching band performed on the Red Line tonight on my way to Cambridge
reminded of why she hates taking the T on Friday nights
getting married ... TODAY!!!!!
Columbus Day

I just ran into John Porcell in Davis Sq.
He and his girlfriend just moved to town, funny world.
Willa and I went apple picking at Honey-Pot Farm in Stow (with Loren, Linda, Maya, and Clay).
On the way out we stopped in Maynard to visit Sue.
Okay, Nashville, I still need to find a job.
Anyone know of any openings?
Beautiful Zimbabwe, beautiful Zimbabwe.
We shall never forget you, beautiful Zimbabwe!

"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul"
"What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life"

never been so happy to be at home eating leftovers and doing homework in my pajamas.

cannot believe how cute
her new portable, external hard drive is
not impressed.

a man of means by no means
is looking forward to seeing "Death of a Salesman" and having a nice dinner!
is angry about unnecessary layoffs
is ready to ask the "right" question to the Governor
is insulating the basement – mmmhh ... fiberglass
is enjoying the birthday wishes! Thanks! Slowly mending from this virus, but mostly shaking my head at the display of such cynicism already in our media from Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
picked up a van load of donated food from Whole Foods and brought it to the food pantry.
Accomplished 3 loads of laundry and pretty-clean downstairs (including noodging the kid to clean up his stuff), mostly on one foot. Now, I must eat a small village.
missed my flight. Stuck in Dulles hell.

In the midst of a rather Job-like period, hoping that all that optimistic attitude that usually keeps me going won't run out.
Dear God
forgive me.
I'm wearing socks with flip flops.
How low can I sink....
doctor says it's not the swine flu but a throat virus that's going around with a fever and cough, fun, fun, fun, mandated bed rest for a few days because i'm contagious! ugh, i hate being sick!
My mother is still in the hospital.

Life has returned to some sense of normalcy.
Meow, meow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
How long can I keep this shit up?

so tired....

Enjoyed my very, very cold ride.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Everybody Loves You

She asked me "Where you goin'?"
I said "I'm goin' crazy"
Her I'd think of followin'
If I weren't so lazy

Remember your last birthday
I called from far away
It wasn't like last Thursday
It felt just like the first day

The moment when all of the stars started shining for you
Like time was just beginning
That's why I'm a-singin'
Everybody loves you
Earth and sea and heaven, too.

You know where you can find me
Look for the feet of sheep
Your garden's gifts bring kindly
Together we will sleep.

You're beautiful and pleasing
A palm among the trees....

... I'm sick of writing, teasing
The time is ripe for seizing!

I just can't wait anymore for your face to appear
You can't be here in spirit
Your voice, I need to hear it
Everybody loves you
Isn't mine the love most dear?

Baby, I'm a rich man
And that's the problem here
No one can love like you can
But your love is too severe

You say we're good for nothing
Why do you talk so rough?
I'd give you anything or something
You only want the one thing

The one thing that I haven't got, what I never will be
You say it's an obsession
And damn all my possessions
Everybody loves you
Don't you wish it could be me?

I'm thirsty for your water
My salty tears don't fill me
The breakers make me totter
Lift me up to where it's hilly

I'm mortally afflicted
Goin' down into the pit
In silence lie convicted
And from your heart evicted

Remember those times when I headed the line to see you
I thought you wanted praising
My hands to you I'm raising
Everybody loves you
Won't you let me love you, too?

You know I never see you
That's just the way it is
But, oh, I still believe you
I'm confident of this

As gentle as a mother,
And, fatherly, as tough
We must love one another
And put all fear to smother

I'm done with death from below -- give me life from above
Forgive me my complaining
I'm thinking of remaining
Everybody loves you
And, yeah, 'cause you are love.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

To Francis, to Clare

Dear brother, show one how you loved the Son
In her. You knew the Lord gave her to you,
Who left all hopes and homes and callings, too,
Because you loved your Father found above
The earthly frays of fate. What curious ways
The Lord saw fit to fan your living blaze!
It has been said you walked with her and wed.
How did you long, or read the Song of Songs?
How did you build the place where she belonged?
You were the bridegroom just as much the bride,
No, twice the groom; God's love of her the fair
Joined her to you and, in you, Christ in there.

Dear sister, show us how the love of Jesus
Espoused you, mind and heart, to him, the blind
And barefoot troubadour. You left behind
The love of mortal men for something more
Eternal--fertile, like an endless year
Of spring. Was that the love that made you hear
The word your Lord sang through the clown ignored?
Insane, they brayed, because you dearly prayed
To be a beggar's bride. Then, to have paid
With golden hair the dowry! Sister Clare,
You stole your body in the name of God;
Now teach us all to love like thieving Francis,
Your brother, father, son, and willing clod.

May 30, 2003

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Grief Unobserved

Ma has a heart of fire
Flashing, it cannot burn low
Dad hates a crook and liar
Give him a yes or a no
My sister is growing a little son
The images fascinate everyone
Purer love he'll never know
My brother is living in Babylon
I asked him where all these years have gone
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard
Some grief has gone unobserved.

David passed through the waters
With the companion he found
David crossed over rivers
Called by his name not to drown
Darkness in the morning hour
David climbed the top of the tower
And he would never come down
James asked his mother why he was there
David was of the water, not air
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard
Some grief has gone unobserved.

Maybe I believed you too much
Loving you, I risked dying
Idols are dangerous to touch
And on a cold bed I am lying
Hoping for sleep that's restoring
Only to rise before morning
And wake from pedestrian dreams, crying
I pray for the world, I pray, love, for you
Maybe there's life we never knew
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard
Some grief has gone unobserved.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Eclipse of the Harvest Moon

I. On his nineteen years

These days are sadly sweet with much to-do;
I shape my share of thought, to share with few.
I speak with salience, saying what is true,
But all I say is not all that is true.
So with the mind and mouth, so with my make;
I'd fain to move and mold as I would take.

II. To his family and one he did not know well

A man and lady follow for the one;
They follow still, and nineteen years are done.
I am that one, a being grown but limp;
Who walks so high he often seems a simp.

A couple never known to me in face
Gave rise to one I knew in time and place.
I trust they followed her, as did we all;
But no one finds her now, because of fall.

We say we knew her, but not known too well.
The autumn leaves refused to bear her tale.
Her name is set in stone and not the wind,
And I see newborn spots upon my skin.

III. In the fields, chasing the eclipse

Assorted people felt me out this day;
As I was sought, I sought to push away:
Away I went to shapely darkened fields
To watch the moon disclose her waxing yields.

I knelt and lay in close on cooling earth,
An unseen shadow raised from evening birth.
I brought a song to sing of moons and knights,
And dreamt of dancing with the lunar light.

The harvest moon with fullness in the sky
Eludes description though it hits the eye:
No redder ruddy reddish reddened red
Was surely dreamt, but how comes light from dread?

I let my thoughts be raped while lying still
Upon a shade of green which darkness killed.

September 1996

I wrote this around my nineteenth birthday. The title describes exactly when. I had learned recently that an acquaintance of mine from high school died in a motorcycle accident. She was the first person from my senior class to die (one student had committed suicide a year before graduation). She was so bright and alive. Her life had yet to begin and shine, and now it was done. I collected my thoughts and composed this piece. I've left intact the grammatical oddity of the question in the penultimate stanza, but I've changed two words for clarity's sake.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Gift of Desperation

Used to be so happy, why, I couldn't tell the time
We never asked the reason or how the meter rhymed
We ate and drank and fit each other till we woke again
A hint of desperation clued us even then.

Something in the way you walked, it talked to me with force
Something else in how you smiled -- that smile, it wasn't yours
It wasn't mine, oh mercy, to restore your soul to you
A spell of desperation left me wandering, too.

Saw you at the window, oh, you've lost your lucky star
Wondered how you knew the one when billions there are
Things were hidden from you even when you set to see
And a wave of desperation carried you to me.

Offered, I received you, who were my portion and my cup
Took your name upon my lips and turned the bottoms up
Then we saw the altar -- we had to turn away
From the smell of desperation, the odor of decay.

We're ready to be broken, and you know you wish we would
Still you don't believe it would do us any good
The wretched in perdition got nothin' on us two
It's the hell of desperation, makes living hard to do.

Everybody's drifting, goin' back to what they did
They got a glimpse of glory, then they ran and hid
You can't avoid temptation, don't try and hold your breath
It's the sting of desperation before the sting of death.

Sometimes I gotta wonder, where we gonna go
Yearning for a lover is the only thing I know
What makes the lover lovely is what I'm looking for
And the pangs of desperation make me want it more.

Baby, please forgive me, see, I guess it wasn't you
But something beneath that our shivers of desire pointed to
Understand, it has to be the end of the affair
I took a vow of desperation and married my despair.

Well the heavens are a-rainin', a wind is on the move
The city sends to sleep a son with something left to prove
Baby, when you find out you got nothin' left to be
That's the gift of desperation sent to you and me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Someone's Prayer

I want to see the faces, not the masses
Or what passes for a celebration
In these sacred places. If I must, I'll
Crawl into the alley with the people
Living lowly speaking gospel, drinking
Wine and welcoming the lights beyond the
Blue horizon. City heights, or empty
Valley lanes below the sun, or even
All the homes I knew before: exclaim the
Hidden names of life and make me shiver
With the child I love, the girl I adored.

I want to know what's real despite the doubters
Shouting louder than the dreaming silents --
Let me roll the wheel. My name is nothing
In the streets, a kind of alien blessing
In the jazzy traffic. Noises never
Know the others; lonely are the yellers
Seeking looks, not seeing farther than the
Image in their eyes. The music begs for
Hearers of the names in town of hermits,
Begs in suburbs of social clowns who aren't
What they claim. No deeds can save their names.
I pray that others hear what they have done.

August 5, 2002

This poem is a little rough, a little incomplete, like the person who wrote it and reads it now with fresh eyes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Still Alright, Ma (I'm Only Repeating)

Sitting in an empty room
And sowing words into a womb
And sending it addressed to whom
It may concern -- I can't assume
That anybody's feeding.

After tilting, armies of the right
Congratulate themselves despite
The fact there's no such thing as black and white
It gets so hard to pray at night
When inspiration's fleeting.

Life's the same but not the aim
I'll change the rules and then the game
But it's alright, Ma, it's not like cheating.

Your lover called you fifty times
You tried to fit Paul Simon's rhymes
Into the scheme, but all the crimes
Of passion forked your tongue and made your lines
Sound stiff and funny.

I heard the cost of freedom fell
There's no demand; it's just as well
For while it's true it's sex that sells
A hundred million prison cells
Are making better money.

So when the cops ask who I am
I'll ask them "Why do you give a damn?"
And it's alright, Ma, they'll only stun me.

The madonnas on the golden thrones
I heard them say "It's not well known
But you can wring blood from a stone
And you can feel it in your bones
When evil comes to meet you."

I told the queen "That's cruel but fair.
So why are you just sitting there
With vacant eyes that stare and stare
When men are coming everywhere
To humble and defeat you?"

Then her kid said "If they did
Who cares? I'll take the hit.
But it's alright, Ma, they will bleed, too."

Twelve thousand people clenched their fists
Tattooed a peace sign on their wrists
I told a band of anarchists
It's strange to grant the atheists
A blessing for their cursing.

For seven weeks I stayed in port
Refused to eat or drink or sport
Then forty days of rain fell through
I had to raise the sails for new
Adventures in God's mercy.

In the cove there's not a sound
And you might think the world was drowned
But it's alright, Ma, it's just immersing.

I'm walking away from the park
They're shouting Shakespeare in the dark
I'm spitting canned heat on the ground
Tonight you can be lost or found
This time it's time for choosing.

When you shut the door and go to bed
With just you or one more instead
Remember we were always friends
If you believe love never ends
Then don't act like you're losing.

So if you think I've had too much to drink
Or not enough and need to take a wink
Well, that's alright, Ma, the story is amusing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ugly Man

I want to be an ugly man
So I can hold a humble pride.
Won't fashion make or wardrobe plan,
Won't need a ring, won't have a bride.

And this is how I want to feel --
Coarse like a hog, odd as a mule,
An ox who always drags the wheels,
Who wears a bow but bears no jewels.

And when at last I'm ugly, can
You be so kind to tell me, too?
And stare at me, if you can stand;
Don't let good manners hinder you.

Look long enough, look at this dun,
Until there's nothing else to see.
Look all your life, you won't be done,
And that is what will most please me.

May 29, 2003

Monday, August 3, 2009

To My Own Mary of Magdala

What are you trying to say?

Your words are difficult and
Fragile as a painted eggshell.

This is not the news I want to hear.
This is not the news I want to bear.

You destroyed forever all I hoped would be
Sending softly leaded nightmares
In the middle of the dawn.

We walked the warming days
Shared in your imperfect vision
Through tears and peers into perdition
You pulled me through the darkness
To follow the sun unsetting.
It really wasn't our decision.

Now the sun is years and lives away
I turned and looked
You didn't stay

Sometimes you infuriate me
With your joy and with your riches
With your closeness to the secret
With your liveliness

Wrapped inside a thickly woven cloak made just for you.

How will I forgive your happiness?

No, I don’t want what I cannot hold.
No, don’t send me down the road.

What are you trying to say?

Go, and go which way?
Go, and go to whom?

Leave me in my room
Head turned down, body shrunk
Wishing, witless, that I never saw you grieving
That I never listened to your still demanding
Or invented some offense
That could have kept myself from you for shame.

Here I’m writing words like these
While standing on my knees
And I don’t know what I’m trying to say
Leaving letters along the way.

And I don’t know what I’m going to do.
See -- the sun, it follows you!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

John 10:34

Swimming inward
I lost everything I wanted
Stripped in the cold stream
Fluttering in water
A hard, sunken stone
No light, no sound
The water alone clothes me
With dissolved salts.

Midnight moonlight,
Wavy shimmer on the surface of your sea:

Where are you? Are you in me?

"You are what you are.
Become what beholds you."

Straining to speak, breathing out of nothing
Desire spills over
I am baptized with a kiss of fire
Moments are woven across the godless distance.

With the turning of years,
I am writing the words of a song I cannot hear.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Come Home

I want you, child, I want you for me
I want you, child, I want you for me
You ought to know who set you free
(Listen to me!)
Come home

I'm a blindin' light, I'm a king without a queen
I'm a blindin' light, I'm a king without a queen
Done the greatest things no one's ever seen
(You want to know what I mean?)
Come home

The rich man is bad
The poor man is sad
I let down my mother, I don't know my dad
Come home, child, I want you for me
Cross the desert sands, cross the desert sea.

Oh me oh my, wedding days have come
Oh me oh my, wedding days have come
Gonna live it a lot, no time for some
(Put out your thumb!)
Come home

You can round the world, from Arabia to Rome
You can round the world, from Arabia to Rome
If you ain't with me, you're on your own
(Get on the phone!)
Come home

The fat old sun burns
The full moon returns
You don't know or love me, but maybe you'll learn
Come home, child, I want you for me
Just for today and eternity.

We gonna die, child, spirits hand in hand
We gonna die, child, spirits hand in hand
You gotta die to survive and make a stand
(You understand?)
Come home, oh, come home, child, I want you for me
Ain't nowhere else you want to be.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

At the Crowded Dinner Table

At the crowded dinner table
The room's too small for elbows.
The guest on my left
Asks for the salt at my right hand.
I lose the taste for it
And hand her the shaker.

At the crowded dinner table
From the farthest corner
Someone waves at me
And wants my attention
And wants the sour cream.
I want to give her neither.

At the crowded dinner table
Of this farewell party
The emcee calls for silence and a toast.
Tomorrow's on my mind
In thirty tarnished pieces.
I push my seat, unquiet.

At the crowded dinner tables
In a busy bistro
I'm getting a filling for my sweet tooth
And my newspaper says
A billion bodies hunger till it hurts
And my waiter comes again with the menu.

At the crowded dinner table
In the home where I lie at night
I hope no one sees me
Sitting on my soul
And holding my breath
While God is starving.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Midnight (Psalm 63)

On this bed
I trade my life
For unrescripted visions
Of a feast of your rain that will flood my soul
And flush my shadowed body
With your power:
Hold me now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Only One

Shall we walk, shall we rest?
Shall we be each other's guest?
Shall we speak of everything beneath the sun?

For a moment, for an hour,
Let us feel each other's power
Because for you and 'cause for me there's only one.

And if you go, don't be long
You inspire this song of songs
Washing over memories in an endless run

Think of me, I'll think of you
I'll think of others better, too
When friends are gone my thoughts will turn to only one.

The ripples on the afternoon lake shimmer
I hear a glimmer of the tune
And there you are
Clear as a star
A dish to race the spoon!

Over coffee, over dinner,
You've gone grayer, I've got thinner
News that never will be printed on page one

Build your house of stones and bricks
Oh, it's the end of politics
At this table I will drink with only one.

The falling of the evening tide is slacking
I hear your call to come inside
And there you are
Clear as a star
Your eyes are open wide.

When the sun falls to the moon
Skies turn black and chills come soon
Reminding us our life together will be done

Once again it's me and you
There's nothing else we'd rather do
But hold each other tight until we're only one.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On a Dangerous Night

I slept through shining hours
In a house divided,
Waiting for the world to end
Until my fury passed.

Well the yoke is not ease
And the burden not light
And I don't want the weight,
On a dangerous night,
Of this dismal disease.

You saw me sing alone
And lose the words before the crowd.
You heard me hold my groan
When witchy women acted proud.

There's a fire in the breeze
And I'm fixing to fight,
And the passion is great,
On a dangerous night,
Forcing men to their knees.

"Lead me not into temptation"
Did not lead to celebration;
I would not accept direction--
Mulishly refused correction.

If to love is to feel
And to feel is to touch
Then the fear in my flesh
Means your love is too much
And my sin is too real.

If you will, you will see
And you'll hear, if you might
All the things tempting fate
On this dangerous night
And the things tempting me.

If yours is beauty, let me see it now
And not the idols I erect--
But not when I have scoured my eyes.
If yours is truth, then let me hear it now
And not this march I cannot stop--
But not when I have broken drums.

And when nothing could please
But would vanish from sight
In my treacherous state
On a dangerous night
You appear and you seize.

You made me turn to you,
The moment I condemned the world.
You waited for this meeting, and
You used my angry loneliness to give
You one more look.

We sat the darkening hours,
You and I,
Attention undivided,
Ah!--until the rain fell like an answer.

And I wanted to feel
And I wanted to touch
And to taste with my flesh
Of a life more than much,
Of a love that is real.

If you will, you will see
And you'll hear, if you might
All the things tempting fate
On this dangerous night
And the things tempting me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Afterthoughts, Afterimages

When I was down I saw my shadow all the time.
The sun was everywhere except inside of me.
Now every day the sun is drowned in grayest sea,
But my horizon's drawn with silver lines.

The germ inside the seed, it grows -- it does not know.
And why when one and one are one it equals three,
Makes sense to me, I cannot tell. Its mystery
Is safe inside her womb with hopes full-sown.

There, when I mixed memory and desire,
There, when I was preaching icy fire,
There, when I fixed up within the hours,
There, when I was speeching from the towers,
There, when I believed in Judas' blues,
There, when I walked in Bob Dylan's shoes,
There, when I relieved myself of strife,
There, when I balked at renewing life,
There, when I objected to your joy,
There, when I was scheming to destroy,
There, when I, dejected, dropped the load,
There, when I was teeming to explode,
There, when I was waiting not expecting,
There, when I insisted on rejecting,
There, when I was hating every tale,
There, when I persisted but would fail,
There, when I begrudged the couple's kiss,
There, when I uncovered animus,
There, when I had judged the multitudes,
There, when I had smothered beatitudes,
There, when I refused to welcome you,
There, when I confused both What and Who,
There, when I excused myself and cried,
There, when I would save myself and lied,
There, when I divorced the soul and heart,
There, when I re-ran from end to start,
There, when I forced friends to part from me,
There, when I began to end to be,

There appeared an image,
Smiling brightly flying,
Human almost holy,
To dispel the dying
Moaning echoes welling
Where the chorus should be swelling.

This is what will happen
When the Lover bids you love.
The rest is badinage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

God's Words

I want to say your name and make you live.
The breath is moving through and waits for me
To hum my throat and lift my loving tongue
And shape my lips to give your being mine.
Then other names of mine will know yours, too,
And they will learn to speak you as I do,
Announcing you, pronouncing you with love,
Your goodness given grammar in their care,
The mystery of your meaning coming true:
And why I am when they say "I love you."

Eternity arrived with your hello,
The day you came to be when you could say
The words that made mine want to reach your ear.
I want to say your name and make me yours.
"Go on," I say, but lack the will to speak.
I lack no wish and yet my lips are weak.
Repeat the unrepeatable -- create!
But all my words have spilled into a mess,
And while they make you think and make you cry,
They circle around my mind and, crumbling, die.

You have to hear before you dare to speak
The lightest words before the deepest speech.
You have to read before you hope to write
The life you want to put inside your love.

The streetcar rattles down in New Orleans
And takes you where the music covers sins.

I only wished to stop and say hello;
A moment may be all we have to know.
The wind that blows the hair across my face
Will carry, too, your laughter: wordless grace.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

From an Upper Room

Sitting on a street bench, acting homeless
Thinking 'bout the women I never knew
Trying hard to pray, my prayers thoughtless
How can anybody pray without you?

Life is getting tighter, people sounding
Bored and boring; my spirit's in the lurch
Everywhere the careless sins are mounding
All I want to know, friends, is where's the church?

Someone's gonna help me, someone broken
Free me from the bond of the upper room
Getting to my head the word soft-spoken
Shattering this heart of untimely gloom.

I'm going to the land of power and glory,
Bidding John the Baptist a short goodbye,
Going to retell a living story --
If I only had the guts just to die!

Outside on the town the trees are blowing
Unexpected rain, it comes softly down
Some can know which way the winds are going
Others only feel the force and the sound.

Stranded on a one-way track to nowhere
Giving all I've gotten or none at all
I make believe I'm home and never go there
Practice how to stumble but not to fall.

Sitting on a sidewalk sideshow corner
Thinking that the future day nearly looms
Gonna pray for her but never mourn her
Nothing left to see in the upper room.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Risin' Blues

The lovers of God were all wondering when
They would see Jesus in glory again
And Jesus rolled his eyes and said "Foolish young men!
You'll never know, but it's all right -- you'll have my Spirit."

And moving on up to the clouds of the sky
Jesus was taken and it caused them to cry
But two outlaws came and told them "You're looking too high.
Your Jesus went a-ramblin'. Don't fear it."

Dreaming all the time, I'm searching for the clues
My body it's hungry, my soul's a purple bruise
I live in the house of the rising blues.

A man from two worlds in a house painted white
Kisses his wife and daughters good-night
Then picks up a Bible and the Bill of Rights
And sighing prays to God or to Lincoln

While under his feet a legion of pigs
Roots in his garden and orchard of figs
And a creep calls to the window "Death to the Whigs!"
And he wonders what the neighbors must be thinkin'

Every single hour there is nothin' but news
Our circuits are loaded, we're gonna blow a fuse
Livin' in the house of the rising blues.

The architects of the invincible zoo
Built camels by committee and elephants, too
Led the creatures to the gate but could not get them through
Now they sit and curse and wish they'd studied magic

Alexander the Great sat down next to a bum
The bum looked at him and asked "Why have you come?"
And Alex said "I need your prayers, now give me some!"
The bum replied "Well, isn't that tragic."

People workin' hard, people pay their dues
People wanna live, but they don't know what's the use
Livin' in the house of the rising blues.

Jesse James went to the chapel and left with a wife
He loved her more than money and more than his life
Then one day a banker pulls on Jesse a knife
And says to him "Your woman has unmanned you!"

Jesse gathers his horses and men for to steal
Stopping him, his weeping wife says "Think how I feel!"
But Jesse says "You cannot help the way I deal.
Try to be happy bein' unhappy, can't you?"

Walls are closin' in, I'm drunk without the booze
I need some kiss to wake me, but I don't know whose
I live in the house of the rising blues.

The deaf, dumb and blind men didn't want to be healed
Snubbed doctors and pastors, the best in their field
Said "The wages of sin can never be repealed"
And shuffled with the prophets to the temple

I walked with the homeless to the twentieth mile
Kids were turning cartwheels and backflips in the aisle
Camera crews and cheerleaders were tellin' us to smile
Oh, I wish that it were only that simple

My last friend gave me some brown walkin' shoes
You're given your friends, you really can't choose
Livin' in the house of the rising blues.

The dark horse rides a quiet carousel
The puddles are pooling and the fairgrounds smell
They say heaven is three days away from hell
But who knows if anyone has been to either

I live with a girl who once brightened my day
She's tall as an angel and light in her way
She says she's my friend and my friend she will stay
There's nothing left to do now but to leave her

Some of them lovers go in threes and twos
Some stay alone and hope the others lose
I live in the house of the rising blues.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Psalm 143

God who hears, hear me!
There is no one else who can listen.
There is no one who can be trusted to listen.
Speak to me because you know,
You make right, you are loyal and true.
What I ask you to do I could never ask another.
I could die to be made right, but I want to stand and live before you.

Some devil has snared me.
The demons have beaten me and brought me down to the ground,
And even below the ground, deeply dead,
Where in the darkness nobody knows me, and nobody ever did.
My spirit sits still, vanishing into a vacuum,
And my heart is a burned-out star.

It didn't used to be this way.
I know what you have done for me,
Recall so many things that worked out wonderfully.
So I reach out to you, dry inside, so dry.
God, I want to drink like the desert drinks the rain!

Now, speak to me now, God!
This spirit cannot survive on its own.
Show yourself, show me or know I will fall and never rise.
Like a lover wake me with your gentlest kiss,
And ever will I lay down with you.
Set me on my way;
For you I rise and watch and pray.

God, free me from my foe!
I have nowhere else to go.
Your will I want to know,
You are the one, my need.
You bless, you breathe, you lead,
You guide me to the mead.

God, you are God. Give me your life.
You will make right this soul gone wrong.
You are the love of loves.
Destroy these demons.
Destroy this death.
For I am yours.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way

One year ago I graduated from Boston University School of Theology with a Master of Divinity degree. This was my valedictory address, prepared for the convocation and hooding ceremony. Given at Marsh Chapel, Sunday, May 18, 2008.


I would like to share with you a poetic meditation based on the Gospel according to John, chapter 14, verses 25 to 31. Before he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and executed, Jesus shared one last meal with his friends. Jesus knew this could be the last time he would be physically present with his disciples. And yet during this meal he promised them that they would never be left alone, for God’s presence would remain with them always. Jesus promises his friends that God will send them the Holy Spirit. Jesus also leaves them his peace and bids them to have courage, for he has already overcome the worldly powers opposed to God. And then in verse 31 he says, “Rise, let us be on our way.”

Rise, let us be on our way.

We are a people on the move. We were made to be sent.
For this we have been taught. For this we have received the Spirit.

Now sense the Spirit ringing your mind with light and coursing your heart with warmth. Feel the Spirit harden your hands for the work to be done.

Rise, let us be on our way.

I am going away, and you are going away. The place you are going to is not here. This place is not your home. It is your time to go. It is your place to go. The world can little afford the absence of your presence.

Now break out of bare ruined choirs and locked upper rooms where you sit with closed hearts and closed minds behind closed doors, and break into life and confound this bounded world. Bear God, bear soul, bear peace. Bring the sanctuary into the street.

Encounter and transform; be encountered and be transformed.
May our love for God humanize us. May the love of God sanctify us.

Rise, let us be on our way.

Do not say you do not know where we are going.
We are going; heaven knows where we are going,
but we’ll know we’re there.
And we’ll get there; heaven knows how we will get there,
but we know we will.
We will. I may not get there with you, but we as a people will get there. We’ll know we’re there. Some call it the Promised Land. Some call it the beloved community. Some call it the reign of God. Do not say you do not know where we are going. Lift up your eyes to the hills and behold the presence of the mountains.

Be well and be at peace, for God is with you.
Do not fear, and do not cower. Who has power over you?
Jesus says, “You have power with God.
So walk with me. Walk with me. You want me to walk with you.
Will you walk with me? Do not say a word, be the word; let there be less talking and more walking.”

Rise, let us be on our way, and we will dare as the world watches us make a place out of no place and turn over every sinful certainty. We will see the circle widen. We will have no small God. We will have a beautiful Jesus. We will have a Spirit that witnesses with our spirit but blows wherever it wills. We will reach out to our cultured despisers who scoff at the Spirit and show them that we are delighted by diversity, unbothered by relativity, and intoxicated by glory. We will risk our life with passion.

Rise, let us be on our way past threats of death, past the idolatries of ideologies, beyond the godless fundamentalisms of the believer and the unbeliever. We will stop telling and selling violent stories that cannot save.

Be on your way, you loyal rebels. Disobey the command to go to war, the command to protect your privilege, the command to shun the stranger, the command to be afraid. Disobey the world so that the world may know how much you love God, who loves the world more than we can ever know. Disobey so that you remain in the world but not of the world, but disobey because you are always for the world. Disobey the world because you obey the Spirit of life, the God of love. Disobey the world because you are the world’s greatest lovers.

Will you love with me? Will you rejoice with me? Will you go with me?

Rise, let us be on our way.

It will be hard, I know, and the road will be muddy and rough.
It leads to heartbreak, it leads to hunger, it leads to rags and spare change on surly streets, it leads to burning sun and freezing moon, it leads to prison, it leads to the hospital, it leads to the gates of delirium, it leads to shattering insanity.
And it leads to the grave.

And still we rise!
Be on your way, you nation of priests, you school of prophets,
you children of Dr. King.
Rise, you young seminarians, let us be on our way.
Rise, you children of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe, let us be on our way.
Rise, all you glorious children of precious dignity and sacred worth, show your beautiful, different, natural colors to the world.
Rise, all you thirsty ones, and cause justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. You know that truth is served when truth is done in love. And when you do love, you, too, are in the way and in the truth and in the life.

Be on your way to see the sick and the poor and the pained and the lost and the lonely and the loveless and the captive and the shut-out and walled-in, raced-in, sexed-in, gayed-in, and all the tired, tired, tired people, and see yourself inside their homeless skin and see reflected in their sad and broken eyes the incorruptible, indestructible image of the God who made both of you and never cease to cry out far and forever, “Rise!”

But we remain for a while. We exist between the times. We have seen Thursday’s joy become Friday’s tragedy. Now we are a people of Holy Saturday longing for the dawn of Sunday all over the world. We believe Saturday does not last forever. Saturday is a book we write between death and life.

Soon we will close the book of Saturday. And we will not remain here.
We will rise. We will rise. Rise. Let us be on our way.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Empty Tomb Blues

I got up one morning on the wrong side of my mind
I said I got up one morning on the wrong side of my mind
I didn't want to tell you, but these blues won't get behind

Some walkin', some runnin', some ridin' -- I just stand still
Some walkin', some runnin', some ridin' -- I just stand still
The angels have deserted me, and I know one day you will

My master's up and gone, my master he's not here
My master's up and gone, my master he's not here
He told me to have faith -- he left me holding emptiness and fear

My friends got nothing, those folks lost their home
My friends got nothing, those folks lost their home
And they've been down so long, no one will let them roam

Some dream of queens and kings -- I only dream of you
Some dream of queens and kings -- I only dream of you
But this dream of mine's not yours, so what good's it gonna do?

I ain't blaspheming -- I'm like God's only son
Said I ain't blaspheming -- I'm like God's only son
I'm bringing you true love, but no one loves me none

I'll keep singin' a mean old nasty song
I'll keep singin' a mean old nasty song
The women ran and told me things I thought were crazy wrong

Do you love me? O God, you know how I do
Said do you love me? O God, you know how I do
I loved you all I could, I loved you all I knew

I got up on Monday on the wrong side of my mind
I got up on Monday on the wrong side of my mind
Pray Sunday comes again before the devil steals his find

I lift up my eyes to the hills, skies are all cloudy and blue
I lift up my eyes to the hills, skies are all cloudy and blue
I see the shade is falling -- O Lord, help me do!

Monday, April 20, 2009

One More for the Vine

The simple stories have not died,
The songs of youth, they are not lies.
Oh, April! Days of passion come
And truth is served when truth is done.
As love is crying all the while,
The miracle is in your smile,
Oh April, under loss and grief,
The surest sign of whole belief.

And, branch by branch, the lordly vine
Embraces you and me and mine.
No feeble graft: we are absorbed,
We know our name, we know the word,
We know the one that conquers us,
Who gives the kiss of peace, the just.
Oh, April, April child, your day has come,
The month for falls and cuts--all to be done
Upon the vine that crawls to us so we may grow
Just as we perish, and to be more than we know.

August 5, 2002

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Father to Son

Those rooms are made for mortal sleep. They are not yours,
Nor are they mine. I would not build a house with doors.
Push out of bed, push out of the room. While ears can range
The body never rests in death, but constant change.
Now go and find your brothers, hiding in the gloom,
Who love the light and truth but fear too much the tomb.
And if you see a room that doesn't need a door,
Please tell the ones inside it what you're knocking for.

May 31, 2003


One of the Easter poems I have written. I will trot out the others anon. I wonder whether I have an Easter song in me this season.

Looking Inside the Tombs

The last entry is fraught with ambiguities. First, you have to know a little something about Holy Saturday. (I have been blessed to study with one who knows more than a little.) Then, there is the soupy language. What exactly is a dangerous love? How could one presume that all are Christian and have a Christian understanding of love, and even then, how could one presume all Christians would understand what a dangerous love is? I cannot pretend myself to comprehend the danger of love as the disciples of every age have done.

Further, I am not quite sure from whose perspective these lines are given, and I do not know to whom they are going for certain. Is it a man or woman speaking? A straight or gay person? Is it Peter? Mary Magdalene? Me? J. Alfred Prufrock? To whom do these lines go? Jesus of Nazareth? The God of Jesus? An absent lover? An unrequited love?

Perhaps the perspectives keep shifting. I have been listening to Dylan's story songs, especially "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Abandoned Love." Or there could be multiple perspectives being presented simultaneously.

Where are we? Jerusalem, or Boston? "Nine forty-seven on holy Saturday night." Is it 2,000 years ago, or was it just last night? Who knows whether it matters. And God knows what is really happening here. Confession coupled with imagination, or imagination coupled with confession, leads a writer to say curious things. The most cagey artists never really tell you what they're confessing, and there's no telling what they're imagining. Now I understand why.

So I decided to play with the ambiguities. Against my better judgment, I have conflated eros, philia, and agape. Further against my better judgment, I have also played with the thoroughly discounted legends shrouding Mary Magdalene. (Pope St. Gregory the Great got it wrong.)

And there it is. The piece works well because it resists a single meaning while bearing a wholly overwhelming feeling. But it also fails for me because I resist it. I don't want to engage it. I don't know if it's virtuous or blasphemous ... and I don't want to know, either. However it is, it hits too close to home. Hints of joyful love behind me, hints of glory before me. But in this moment, neither is there. What is here is not pain, because I have been too privileged and too clever to be caught by real pain. What is here is only a lonely, lonely longing.

I look through keyholes into tomb-rooms, hoping they are empty, but hoping secretly I will find someone. Why? So I can be courageous? What will I do if I find someone inside? What have I ever done but turn away?

Every day of my life is a Holy Saturday, and I am the cemetery custodian, keeping death and new life at arm's distance.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday

Nine forty-seven
On holy Saturday night.
My soul lost its heart.

A dangerous love
Covered us until yesterday.
Now you are gone.

You met my midnight
And made a sun of mercies
Burn the horizon.

You feared not to walk
With the wind on the water
And bid me to sail.

Friends who see despond
Don't know what I understand:
They cannot touch me,

For only you could!
In your hold would I be still,
Not still by myself.

I dreamed of your flesh
And dreamed that I tasted it,
Warmly in my mouth,

Kissing my own god,
But awoke to the gray day,
Kissing my own ghost.

I am lonely, lonely,
Longing for you
On holy Saturday night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sad Song

I could not care when I was close to you,
Whose love turned quick when it could not possess.
Was yours no love? Was mine no care?
The round ill fits the square.

What stealthy air disturbs my sleeping room,
Where shadows' corners keep the voice that makes
A madman of a happy child?
The round confines the square.

She means much more to me than I to her;
My words get lost in laughs and beery breath.
If I can't speak, how can I see?
The round defies the square.

And no one shows me how to offer up
The presence of my absence. With a shrug,
My gods put God to doleful death:
The round condemns the square.


April 26, 2003

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Crooked sounds are coming down the darkness
Bruising homes of empty sounds and spaces.
Loud or little, in the air within, without,
Is noise. Will spirits sing tonight?
The silent cover heads and hearts to listen.

Watch and pray, we say as friends, forgetting
We are always crashing secret gardens.
Or, we sleep like sickened children, keeping
Hostile dreams that youth despair at seeing.

One by one, the noises sink, pervading
Lousy angry men and flustered women.
Youths in hiding in the streets or shabby
Shelters where they squander money falter
On the broken glass and shrillness hovering.
All these bodies flit confused, without a sigh.

The silent keep their faces clean, their
Hearts at rest for love's command: decrease.
Revealing cymbals, horns, and violins,
They wait no more: the sacred song begins.


This poem I wrote on August 9, 2002, two days before I left my home in North Babylon, N.Y., for Baltimore, where I lived for the next two years on my pilgrim journey.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Jesus Blues

They say you love me, say you're loyal and true
They say you love me, say you're loyal and true
But now I'm hung up, 'cause you mean it, too.

They see you in the starlight, see you in the blood-red moon
They see you in the starlight, see you in the blood-red moon
If I had their sight, I'd say you're coming soon.

They see you in the clouds, gonna break up the sky
They see you in the clouds, gonna break up the sky
If that's the way it is, I think I'm gonna cry.

You gave me riches, gave me every day
You gave me riches, gave me every day
Why'd you go on giving what I've got to give away?

You healed the dying, fed the poor some bread
You healed the dying, fed the poor some bread
Seems so hard of heart to judge them when they're dead.

Don't you love the sinner, don't you hate the war?
Don't you love the sinner, don't you hate the war?
Don't you see I prayed, then I sinned some more?

Take me if you want me, take me, I don't mind
Take me if you want me, take me, I don't mind
But mercy, will you like the soul you find?

Some call you Jesus, some call you holy Christ
Some call you Jesus, some call you holy Christ
Whoever you are, we better think twice.

I'll sing my gospel, I'll sing my blues and rhyme
I'll sing my gospel, I'll sing my blues and rhyme
O brother, have mercy; Jesus, take your time!


I wrote this song on Dec. 20, 2006, when I was in an Advent frame of mind. But it seems to me more fitting for Lent and for Holy Week, in retrospect. Or it could be ultimately a song for Pentecost. Maybe you can take it whenever you find it, however you find it. Take it for its blues and take it to your broken heart. Just don't take it to the bank. Anyway, I thought it was worth posting right here and now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Foolish Song

Attend to your sight, put away your romances,
Pray from the darkness, the better to praise the light.

Keep closed the door, it will not confine you,
It cannot contain me, or what we suffered for.

Trust in the foolish, the things that are weak,
Things we remember only when boom turns to bust.

Love has disarmed you, and power is yours to deny.
Now that you're ready to perish, be born from above.

And speak of your friends with secretive speech,
Seek as your own their most infinite, intimate ends.

And when Gog and Magog come to sweep up the sands,
Keep your lamp burning and set your face like a dog,

Until firebells ring from the heavenly night,
Deafening all but the saints in the city who sing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From a Sitting

Move with the movement,
Anchored and always floating,
Carried standing still.

Sail on to the shore,
Meeting earth, leaving water,
Touching and parting.

Let breezes drift you,
The thick waters of the air
Lapping at your edge.

Circle round the sands
As you cup your little steps
To a kindly crawl.

Waves beyond your ear
Are dashing stubborn swimmers.
You are safe tonight.

Rest, the ship is tied.
Rest, for you are not the tide.
Rest inside the cove,

Watching the seashine,
Hugging the sandy carpets,
Learning fishers' prayers,

Sleeping with the sky,
Rising with a virgin sun
From untame water.

Sail, the light is bright.
Sail, the day is long enough.
Sail until you're here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prayer in Anger

I have had my fill of candlelit vigils and sights subdued.
We are not a confederacy of candles, but a nation on fire.
Let it blaze!

We are not alone, but we are not together. Where are we, friends?

I want to see my enemy. I need to see my enemy.
And my enemy needs to see me.
We march and they hide. We march, and we hide.

I want to break the digital windows and force the virtual doors.
I want to pray like a prisoner and sing like a criminal.

Keep the eschaton. An encounter will do.
I will see you. Good God, I want to see you.

Jesus, revive this sublimated life.
Show us the way of radical subordination.
We have not even begun to be good.
Nobody knows whom we serve.
Nobody is watching because everybody is staring.

But the enemy is waiting to be served.
And all eyes turned inward will jerk around to the image blown out.

Lord, give me your burning coals!
Make me a weakling, a fool!

Good God, I want to see you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reason to Cry

Tell us about the pilgrims who fell and never did go on.
These are the souls who never came to Babylon.
Tell us about the pilgrims who survived.
These are the souls whose cries brought them to life.

The doves drove into darkness while guitars hummed on the air.
You rubbed your eyes, your body shook, you hid inside your hair.

Who told you not to cry?
Who made you feel alone?
Who takes your sleep and lies?
I'll bring them far from home.

You fear to feel anything I feel and see anything I see.
You don't believe. The you in them has killed the you in me.

I'll help you live with friends
Who don't know who you are,
Who justify their ends
And make you their North Star.

Then maybe you can listen with your fingers or your feet,
Intelligently touch the mind, step smartly on the street

Within the light parade,
The waste land made a world
Again. The stage is played
Upon, all tongues uncurled,

And soon you'll speak a living tongue you do not know
And faster sprint to Eden from the Inferno

And feel a hotter fire
Than what blazes in your veins.
The life my blood will sire,
Life for which your labor pains,

Will speed the different shades of sun, ignite the air,
And warmly crawl along the floor and up the stair.

It shines inside your soul
When friends ask for it to.
But when you feel like a black hole,
Recall my prayer for you.

And learn to look before, beyond, and through the bolted door
For visions speaking fe y esparanza y amor.

I trust your teary eyes.
They say you will not die.
I say they will not rise.
I know you have to cry.

For I have felt everything you feel, and seen everything you see.
I hope you trust my joys enough to give your griefs to me.

I've come to you for this.
I'll wait to hear you sigh.
I'll wait until there is
No reason left to cry.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Open Your Lips

You want to give a kiss. That's what you say:
"It pulls you into flight; you fly away.
It fills the night invisibly with day."

But what you really want is to be kissed.

And why? A kiss makes life. The warm breath flows
Into the molded dust, and the dust stirs.

But shall the pot inspire the potter?
Or Galatea carve Pygmalion?

You want to give a kiss; that's what you say.
"I'll give you all I have then give you more.
My soul, your soul, each in the other's core."

Except your lips are shut. Your body lies
There battered in the sand. The waters roar.

How can you give love when love is something you never had?
You cannot think you know the reasons for the kiss.

For what you really need is to be kissed.
Who will open your lips?
Who will blow hard and blow deep in the mouth of death?

You need to be created anew. And maybe you will. Do you want it?

Do you will it?

Then lean into her face. Look through her eyes.
Be close, then close your orphaned eyes and breathe.
And let your breath be covered with another.

And who knows what it will mean? Or what was there?
The being, not the feeling of what seems
To be so meant to be in gilded dreams,
The being. And who knows what it will be.

Who knows but that you'll say goodbye to crying.
Who knows but that you'll change, but without dying.

Who knows the worth of being here like this.
Who knows the key encrypted on a kiss.


Spiritual but not religious: you might as well say you are hungry but not accustomed to eating.
Religious but not spiritual: they feed but are never nourished.
You are a spirit. Your spirit has a religious instinct.
Satisfy spirituality in religion.
Be religious so that you may be spiritual.
Be both so that you may be a true and faithful servant.


The temptation of silence: to believe you are called to be quiet.
Silence is not quiet. For that matter, silence is not silent.

The sin of quietism: to fail to yield your tongue to the One who opens your lips.


Watch the river flow, and know there is some place for you to go.
Being still is not staying put. Keep moving to be stable.


Anonym: A notion which has no name, or which can not be expressed by a single English word (J.R. Seeley).

There are no anonyms but God. For the rest, hear your name and be saved.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pause, Then Play

Sing, because someone is tuning.
Dance, because someone is leading.
Pray, because someone is gracing.

When you rest, you are never resting.
You are being led out of temptation.
When you laugh, you are laughing forever.
You are being delivered from evil.

This is what the sage said:
Remember to play.
This is what the sage sees:
Men and women who forget how to act like children.
This is what the sage means:
They who disinherit the least will inherit not the least.

And we disown ourselves when we split into an inward child and an outward elder.

Ascend the stage. Approach the light. Prepare to breathe.
And mark your steps. Adjust your sight. Be there, believe.

Then pause.

And the Word became flesh that your flesh may become a Word.

Then play on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Going and Coming and Becoming

Take me on a journey whose destinations are moments.
This is the way out of the endless peregrination to no purpose.

We are tramps. But you will make us pilgrims.

You do not need to take me where the breezes blow.
Make me the breezes blowing.
You do not need to guide me to the watercourses.
Make me the water flowing.

We are plastic dolls. But you will make us sinewed souls.

For the long long loneliness, a friend of friends.
For the slow sore insomnia, a dream of dreams.
For the deep damp desolation, a sun of suns.

O take us on the way into the meeting place,
Where who we see we see in silver sharpness,
Where who we hear we hear in golden roundness,
Where who we touch we touch in bronzed warmness,
As infants overcome in daylight's panoramic brilliance.

We are old and nearly frozen.
But you will make us young and nearly lava.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Love Minus Zero

Feel the hand of God gently pushing you aside, putting you where you will be.

It is not where you want to be. But it is all right, and it is very good.

And you are allowed to cry about it.
You are allowed to laugh about it.
You are allowed to wonder about it.

Be awakened. Be stirred. Be looked upon.
Some won't let the gaze of God enlighten their brow.

You are down and out, but you are never alone. The poverty of the body will uncover the richness of its spirit. You are here with many pauperized lovers.

Remember everyone who relies on your prayers. Can you see them?

Look upon the sinners and sinned against with compassion: Did you know that God is looking over your shoulder at them? God will look where you look. God will touch whom you touch. Because you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Grieve for the sufferers who have no companion but darkness. Then come to them, moist-eyed, and be their light.

Be directed by graceful indirection. It is all right, and it is very good.

From the church to the house to the park to the street, you are learning how to be human. You are learning how to be God.

There is no limit in the life itself, although the living must diminish;
You will become eternal, body open-ended, when your labors finish.

Can you count the ways God says yes?
In every affirmation, and still more in every negation!

Get on the road by which the blue clear river flows.
And you will lack for nothing on the way.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eternity and Other Things

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.
William Blake, "Eternity"

But you want to hold on to a piece of that which lasts. Well, you better get in line. And know this: if you get in line, you will wait for time everlasting and collapse into the abyss. It is no matter when or where you get in the line—you are in the line. Because eternity is before what comes first and is after what comes last.

Step out of line, my friend. You should not want so much. Learn to become a better kisser instead.

What, is a kiss not enough? Then get your wings and learn to fly with the contentment you have been given to feel.

Step out of line. Soar into the spiral. And find yourself some good sunglasses.


Christian theologians were the first lepidopterists. All well and good, but I can hear Jesus say: physic, study thyself!


Who burst your bubble? It was you, you yourself. Is that reason enough to prick the others? It is no reason, for there was no reason at all in what you did in the first place. There, there is original sin: finding a reason for nothing. Was that King Lear's ghost that just shivered past?


When something is found along the way, it is yours.
When you are found along the way, you are God's.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Examination of Conscience

Your competence is not a substitute for compassion. Your competence will not cover the poverty of your charity.

Jealousy! Is it useful to you? It is good for nothing. It makes you curse the others for singing in the rain while you stand stubbornly under your umbrella.

You heard someone's footsteps approaching behind the door, and you flinched again. Who was it? You will never know. But you keep waiting for the footsteps. You camp in the room behind the door. But you won't answer the door. You call this hope?

Courage: it is to reject your suspicion that others are not interested in you. It is also to call upon others and risk having your suspicion validated.

You waited to have your name lifted up before you left them: greed, even for wooden nickels.

Your eyes are suns. The one whom you can look directly in the eye is the one whom you can blind and burn. Be careful.

But do not be too careful. The one whose face you avoid will freeze.

Quick, in the name of Isaac, a miracle: laugh, laugh well, and laugh within earshot.

Did you obey? Did you defy? Did you make it possible to do both with excellence?

Did you live? Did you die?

Did you love?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goodness, Find Us

Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
Mark 10:18

You do the right things, but you are not good. Even if all you did were right things, that does not make you good.

God, does the world, teeming with long-dead souls, look that strange to you? How peculiar does it seem when, even on its brightest days, it needs saving?

How strange, too, that you give us the feeling that it needs saving. A world perfectly beautiful and completely broken. And inside, the brief feeling of an eternal warmth rushes around the flesh with the blood, only to remind us, in the brevity, that something is seriously out of the right.

It is not right, and even if it was right it is not good. What a strange effect grace sometimes has upon the soul to stir your lowly image to such stern and lordly convictions.

One of your servants said a good man is hard to find. But we know goodness when we see it. Then let goodness find us all. Another erstwhile servant of yours says it always has and will again.

Bid your angels to look over our shoulders. Bid us to look upon every man and woman and child with love and feel with conviction that everything is broken. No profession of love will ring true without the confession; there is no truth without the feeling for the thought.

Hear us in our hour of endangerment. Hear us while we strive to live, and be our refuge.

Let us receive your grace and see your goodness now!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Burning Into Ash

She never sounded so forlorn or despairing.

She does not believe in your words of love, does not know how. She says you say them to be kind. She does not believe in love anymore.

The love that gave you her flesh, the love that gave you her blood: she does not feel it in her, she does not feel it being given to her.

She feels she is worthy of nothing, neither your time nor your devotion.

Her words are thick. Her face is drawn downward into a nervous slump.

She looks around her shrunken world, an invisible cage barely shielding her from incomprehensible violence. She cannot see the way out.

She stays up late to listen for a voice of reassurance. She cannot hear it.

Every night is dangerous. Her dreams terrify us. Who are the enemies assailing her from within?

It is early Friday, and she is crying, afraid of the ghosts. She is crying, because she is becoming a ghost.

And the eighth day is far, far away.

She is burning into ash, and her embers are swiftly drifting away. She is disintegrating into dust too fine to grasp.

Surely this is not the work of the Holy One! Surely this is not the offering she is to make! For who she is, is being stolen from us and from God.

Truly, do you see your sparrow falling?

Stir up her embers and fuse them into a livid coal. Give her the light and heat that she may share it with you and us. Make her live so that you may use her until her time surrenders to eternity.

But let not her body and mind be profaned by this demonic immolation. Lead her not into a living oblivion.

For ashes she must become, but not to be scattered to no purpose. Let her be a sign, an act, a person who by braving this burning becomes the way for us to go.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Reproof

You prayed for those too hurt to cry but forgot the way to feel.
You forgot the way to cry.

So now, this blue in shades of brown -- does it surprise you?

"I desire mercy, not sacrifice": then why are you so cruel to yourself?
Why are you afraid to bear your most godly vulnerabilities?
This is what the world wants of you.
This, the Lord requires of you.

You do not love the ones you're with.
Very well: then see if pity passes over.
It will not. It will find you underneath that black cracked visage.
And it will pry you apart.

For why should not your God kill out of mercy? Yes, if it be the only mercy left that you can feel.


Everyone lives what they believe.
But I promise you will live on whom you believe.
Who are you, if you are?
Not every belief will survive.
You will live on if you live on whom you believe.


Now, stop your prayers! For truly they never were.
Will you dare to speak to me? Will you dare to look at me?

You have entombed yourself.
I led Jesus to the stable, to the temple, to the river, to the desert, to the seaside, to the mountain, to the city, to the hilltop, and to the cavern.
I never led him to the tomb or the crypt.

You are not going away. You are too graceful to stumble into the abyss.

Look not for what you want.
I will give you Who I give.
You will give the Who you are, for I am a beggar looking for your joys and sorrows.

Look up. Look over.
Look upon the one whom I brought you.
Hear the word: "I love you."
Look upon your other, too, with love.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Before Sleep

Now make me still for the unquiet day to come.

Let this surrender of body and soul feel sweet. Let this slumber be silent.

Then make me rise again for the ever-living surrender, and help me wake the wide-eyed sleepers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On Sexuality

This is a note I wrote in August 2008 as I was reading a book by Geoffrey Robinson, retired auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, titled Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church. It is fitting to repost it here today.

Some propositions on sexual identity and practice, with an eye toward celibacy:

Sexuality is thoroughly a part of human nature. This holds true even as one holds that human nature and, hence, sexuality, is socially constructed.

Gender and orientation are core aspects of sexuality. Therefore, gender and orientation are thoroughly part of human nature. Human nature being unified but by no means uniform, no varieties of gender and orientation should be considered “intrinsically disordered.”

Sexual inclination and sexual expression are interdependent but also independent of one another. They are neither fully separable nor identical. Sexual inclination is not fully realized without sexual expression, but it is not determined by particular form(s) of sexual expression. Sexual expression is dependent on and is an indicator of sexual inclination, but it is also dependent on other aspects of sexuality.

Mere sexual inclination (i.e., orientation) has no bearing on the moral value of sexual expression.

The meaning and purpose of sexual intercourse is generally but not universally unitive (strengthening the love of the couple) and procreative (creating new life). Therefore, while both the unitive and procreative aspects of sexuality must be present in marriage as an institution of the whole human race, they need not be present in each and every act of intercourse, nor even in every marriage. Indeed, this is neither practical nor desirable.

To take a broader view, sexual intercourse is generally but not universally the ultimate expression of sexuality. Sexual intercourse is not the exclusive means by which the highest aspirations of sexuality (i.e., love is strengthened and new life is created) are achieved. Therefore, while sexual intercourse will always make manifest the most sublime expressions of human sexuality, it need not be the ultimate expression for every human being. To demand this of the act is neither practical nor desirable.

To go even further, some human beings will never express their sexuality through sexual intercourse. Not every person is called to be married, much less to be a parent. And not every person is called to be in a long-term sexual relationship marked by exclusivity, intimacy, and mutuality. But if unitivity and procreativity need not be present in every consummated marriage, then it need not be present among persons who choose not to marry or enter sexual relationships. Yet even among those who do not marry or enter sexual relationships, the highest aspirations of sexuality may still be attained.

Mere sexual inclination places no limits on the capacity of any human being to achieve the highest aspirations of sexuality. Neither does sexual inclination wholly determine the form(s) of sexual expression assumed by an individual human being.

To use the language of the Church, every child of God is called to a particular sexual vocation. Gender and orientation have to do with sexual identity; marriage (with or without parenthood), celibacy, singleness, etc., have to do with sexual vocation. Discovery of one’s gender and orientation is the beginning, not the end of the discernment of one’s sexual vocation. Mere sexual inclination neither qualifies a person for nor precludes that person from any particular sexual vocation.

The vocation to ecclesial ministry is a direct gift of God to the Church (i.e., the people of God) and an indirect gift to individuals. Such vocations are therefore subject to confirmation by the Church. On the other hand, sexual vocation is a direct gift of God to individuals and is not subject to confirmation by the Church. The Church does well to remain agnostic on matters of sexual vocation, instead offering guidance for discernment using all the spiritual tools at its command, and a readiness to bless genuine sexual vocations.

There is no clear correlation or causal relationship between particular ecclesial vocations and particular sexual vocations. If this proposition is valid, then two conclusions follow:

Not every person called to priestly ordination is called to celibacy. Put positively, a person called to priestly ordination may also be called to marriage.

Irrespective of ecclesial vocation, not every person is called to marriage. Put positively, a person who serves outside the clerical ranks may yet be called to celibacy.

Once again, a sexual vocation is a direct gift from God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, neither marriage nor celibacy is a superior practice to the other. The former is a witness to God’s incarnational and immanent love; the latter is a witness to God’s eschatological and transcendent love.

A sexual vocation is a charism, and it cannot be mandated. Therefore, celibacy should not be a condition of ordination to priesthood. Finally, because a sexual vocation is a charism, it should never be despised. Therefore, celibacy should not be regarded inside or outside the priestly or religious orders as aberrant or unnatural. As a unique form of sexual practice it is well within the diverse range of healthy, loving, life-giving sexual expressions that comprise all of human sexuality.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

'God Does Not Like You'

Listen to me! You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen....We don't need him!
Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk's antagonist gives us three premises and two conclusions:

Premise 1: God does not like us.
Premise 2: God never wanted us.
Premise 3: God hates us.

Conclusion 1: Being not liked, never wanted, and even being hated by God is not the worst thing that can happen to us.
Conclusion 2: We don't need a God who does not like us, who even hates us.

With qualifications, I can accept all three premises and the first conclusion. The second conclusion does not follow from the premises. We do need a God who does not like us, and we do need a God who even hates us. Indeed, this God is the only God we have.

And here's the key that opens the door to these seemingly absurd sentences.

David Tracy says it is the central metaphor of Christianity. We may never know or understand God even with this metaphor, but we'll never understand God without it, so we who believe by it better be about the job of making its meaning clear.

It is an affirmation of such ineluctable starkness that it calls roaringly for apophatic declarations of equal starkness.

With it, I can consider the possibility that God does not like us. By this metaphor we adduce from God a quality of being-in-relation of a different order from liking. It is an order that is not only different, but also incommensurable. Liking is bounded, capricious, and partisan. The God who merely liked us could not give us life. The God who merely liked us could not save us or sustain us. It may be true that God does like us, but this does not make God that with which we are ultimately concerned. If we are to speak strictly of God as that which relates to ultimate reality, we must discard all that is superfluous to ultimacy. Our God does not have to like us to give us life, to save us, and sustain us. God could like us, but God does not need to. Liking does not add to deity. But it could detract from it. I will take the step further and suppose that where ultimate reality is concerned, boundaries, caprice, and partisanship are inimical to the God of boundlessness, steadfastness, and impartiality Christians confess. God cannot like and still be God. The central metaphor of Christianity exposes the limits of liking and points toward a reality at once more transcendent and immanent.

With the central metaphor, I can accept that God never wanted us. By this I do not mean an idle metaphysical musing over how God never wants for anything. Let's go past that to a more bracing personal reality. God desires persons, but God's desire for us is not a desire of us. And God's desire for us is not the same as the desire in us that leads us to embrace, possess, and reject persons with finite passion. God creates us without wanting us. Indeed, God cannot create by wanting. And so on for redeeming and sustaining us. God desires without wanting. God's eroticism is not concupiscent; this makes God's friendship and self-giving possible.

With the central metaphor, I can even admit of an indeterminate probability that God hates us. But let's be careful about how we mean that. We are because God is. Who we are is in relation to who God is. The I-Thou relation is a relation of Whos. It is a relation of human and divine persons. It cannot be an I-It relationship, a relation of Whats. Because of sin and the fall to violence, we are what we are, and we are not who we are. We cannot relate to other persons, and surely we cannot relate to the ultimate Person. If, in our Whatness, we do not accept the life that God has shared with us, and if we do not share with others what God has shared with us, because we cannot and will not -- if we reject the God Who Is, what else can God do but hate the What we have become? I has forsaken Thou, I has made its understanding of Thou an It, and I has actually become an It. God is wrathful at this. But this is not merely the heated hatred such as humans show toward one another. It is the cool wrath of anathema. God will not be made an It, and the God Who Is will not relate to our What. Given the Whoness of the central metaphor in the person of Jesus, how else can God respond to our denial but with another denial?

In a peculiar way we agree with Tyler Durden, an anarchist-nihilist who is not burdened by Christian metaphysics. It is not a question for him whether God can like at all or want at all or hate at all and still be God. He knows his God does not like us. His God does not want us, and his God hates us. The questions do not concern him, nor do the answers. All that matters is the right response to such a God and the world of God's making. And his response is to get pissed off, take off one's shirt and shoes, and prepare to fight to the point of destruction.

In a world addled by violence and tempted by terrorism, it must not go without saying that Tyler's response is the wrong one. So let's push the key over all the tumblers, all the way into the lock.

Tyler Durden rightly rejects the God of our projections and rails against poverty of life. But he wrongly construes ultimate reality. He supposes that granting and glorifying life requires a wanting of life, and from the shape of things it appears to Tyler that God has wanted us as capriciously as we want others. Indeed this God is worthy only of rejection. Tyler reasons that God has denied us first, and so we must deny God and all that God has wrought.

But the reality is that, with Tyler, we have denied a God we never truly knew or understood. Because God is love.

Tyler's first conclusion is sound. Being not liked, never wanted, and being hated by God is not the worst thing that can happen. Being unalive, being unfree, and being bounded in hopelessness are worse. And these are but symptoms of the worst thing that can happen. Because God is love, the worst thing that can happen is not to be loved by God. And so we must reject Tyler's second conclusion. We do need the God who does not like us and might hate us because this is precisely the God who is able to love us into life, freedom, and boundless possibility.

Out of pure love this God tells us who we are, whether we like it or not. This God, in whom all things are possible, desires us without possessively wanting us. This God says the Word that makes us who we will become and will reunify the hateful What which we are with the Who we must be. God does not like us; God loves us, and by this love we live and move and have our being. By this love, we will be with God.

Now when I talked to God I knew he'd understand
He said stick by me and I'll be your guiding hand
But don't ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to
Peter Green, "Oh Well"