Awakening

To say my father loved Jesus
is as wrong as saying he feared him.
To him, Jesus was a landlord,
a creditor, someone owed a debt,
which, left unpaid, would end in pain,

not only justified but welcomed,
insisted upon, and in the great
tradition of the spawn of Yahweh,
pass on to children and their children,
the unwanted and unearned burden of birthright.

Good morning, says the baptist, and
slaps you on the butt. It’s time
to be fitted for your chains.

The death of Bernardo

I remember a moment in fifth grade,
when it was announced
that Sister Bernardo,
who taught seventh grade,
had died.

There was this brief
eruption of joy that
we would not, ever,
have to endure
her legendary cruelty.
It was an utterly spontaneous, and
therefore uncontrollable, eruption
which collapsed almost
immediately into despair.

There stood, at the head
of the classroom,
Sister Mary Henry,
in all her indominable
forbiddenness, and we knew
that she had recorded the reaction
of each and every child
in her prodigious
and never-failing memory.

The faithful depart

You have given us like sheep for eating
And scattered us among the heathen.
Psalm 44

Out here, no stars for guidance
No hope for subsistence
The sky meets the open sea
Searching for a horizon

Out here, the wail of utter
Lack of direction
Of pointlessness
Seems absurdly redundant

Whatever happened
To the long ago gamble
That pushed us here
So vainly game?

The compass needle swings
Madly from one point
To the next, oblivious,
Wanton, unable, unwilling

And yet, we’re such dogs
As lap up the small gifts
We find on the wayside
Imagining meanings for them all

Our lips cannot form
The word “sever”
Our hearts cannot forgive
The love you bore us

Our souls cannot grasp
Your cruel mercy

This poem first appeared in this blog 12/7/14.  It was inspired by a passage from Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu Britannie, written in 540 CE. It describes the slaughter and deprivation of Britons at the hands of Saxons after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  Ironically, the earlier barbarians had become Roman Britons, and now viewed the Saxon invaders with the same revulsion they had suffered at the hands of the Romans.

False idylls

Ah, we say, what a life!
and yet …

We are the heirs of discontent
we carry all colors among us
to their inevitable conclusion

Our eyes are rising swiftly
under an aging sun

What nourished our forebears
we find merely annoying
All those Bible Prophets mute
as sacks of sand

To build dikes against
a flood which never comes
and yet …

here we stand
precisely in their footpads

St. Augustine never graced my dreams

The writer, says the poet,
must only write
what must not be written.

Such are the quests
we pursue, Sancho-Panza-less,
weak despite our dreams

secret cowards pretending
to be secret heroes.
Who remembers, now,

all those wasted hours
dreaming springtimes
that never came, never left?

Who would want to repeat
such nonsense, who would
listen anyway?

Thousands of lives ago
they, too, believed to the core
of their death-bound souls,

incarnate but powerless,
amused but mirthless
amid those others

who seemed unshackled
but bore also
the scars of sentience.

Whole stories narrated
themselves, so complete
and unpierceable

that if they were not true
then nothing was.
And now, we’ve worn away

the so-convincing patina,
exposed the tin beneath
the blinding shine.

Into the teeth of it, then!
No use making a penance
of it. Allez-op!

Who writes poems, anyway,
but poets? Who reads them
but you?