in two minds (imitation)

What I love about music
is the way it tumbles around in my mind
What I hate about my mind
is the way it goes too far forward and sticks in repeat
What I love about repeat
is the comforting solidarity of routine
What I hate about routine
is the claustrophobic inability to deviate from calendars
What I love about calendars
is knowing that spring always follows winter and then summer
What I hate about summer
is the goodbyes that are embedded in this particular one
What I love about one
is the freedom to come and go as I please
What I hate about please
is when it’s used to cloak manipulation
What I love about manipulation
is the stunning ingenuity of humans
What I hate about humans
is hatred and stupidity, gunshots and death
What I love about death
is that it has been defeated and is now a door
What I hate about doors
is when they are locked and you’re not here
What I love about here
is the surprising harmonies of lives making music
What I hate about music
is when it takes over my mind.

[Written for Reading/Composition, following a prompt model.]

Forbidden Fruit

Was it a
Hesitant bite, barely breaking the skin
Or full out gorging
With juice smeared all over your face?
I don’t know.
But we sin both ways
Trying it, just to see
And like we’d die without it.
But we die because of it
Because we would rather eat
From the forbidden tree
Than take the fruit from the tree of life.
So we were sent out of the garden
Into a world where we live in a state
Of continually dying
Trying to stretch out our lives
By the sweat of our brow
Trying to make enough grow
To keep us alive.
And the tree of life was blocked off
Until the day there was another tree
A tree that meant death.
And what hung on it was a man, not fruit
Crying
Eloi eloi lama sabacthani
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And he faced death
And all of God’s wrath
Not a sidelong glance
But a full out grappling
That conquered the last enemy.
We live outside of Eden
In a world that is moving toward
The promise of a new world
One where the tree of life grows again
With a different fruit for every season
With leaves that can heal all the nations
Where we will stand before
The face of God
And be satisfied with His goodness
Forever.

the kingdom of heaven

and the violent take it by force
because they utterly trample the bounds of propriety
and will not take No for an answer
in the face of daunting, overwhelming odds
they lack the good sense to give up and give in
graciously
cutting their losses
leaving us comfortable with the status quo
they refuse to live with the words que sera, sera
instead waging messy protests
crying out that This is NOT how it should be
the grit and steel that backs the worn petition
Your kingdom come

and the violent take it by force
because they are the ones crazy enough
to stay up all night wrestling with the angel
with God Himself
what kind of audacity does it take
to interrupt the King for a glass of water?
that of a child.
a child who knows they are seen and beloved
who holds fast to the truth that
God is always, only, ever good
in darkness. in death. in devastation.

Ashes

[for Merry]

The season of deafening silence began in this way:

(For each of the decades of silence, a single day)
She pressed her ash-smudged forehead against my lips
Leaning in for a kiss
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain…

But our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost;
We are cut off utterly.
We cannot hope to turn again,
Or, indeed, to turn at all;
Dum spiro spero‘s sad corollary counterweight.

And if we have hoped in Christ in this life only,
We are of all men the most to be pitied.
But in fact, the Word intrudes:
“You shall know that I am Yahweh
I will open your graves
And put my Spirit within you
And you shall live.

From one degree of glory to another:
May my ash-smeared lips proclaim such truth
In unsilenced joy into ages everlasting.

~~~~

Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain is the final line of the first song in the Fellowship of the Ring, Quenya for “Listen! It speaks to those who were not born to die.”

Dum spiro spero is Latin for “While I breathe, I hope.”

Other references: T. S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday, Ezekiel 37, 1 Corinthians 13, 2 Corinthians 3.

And One More, for Nick

Oh yes, I am angry
All these months later, the entire summer in between.
He didn’t even know you!
And it seems an insult to say that I could have done better.
But really.
I think I could have, little as I knew —
Little as I had known you.

The way you left has left a hole.
The edges are less jagged, worn a little smoother
But they still catch.
The first time I made baguettes —
When your friend needed a place to stay —
When they brought food over for us —
Those of us who knew you look at each other
And smile and swallow tears.

He should have said that your heart
Was as big as the widest sky;
That the way you laughed and loved
Was nothing short of incredible;
That you were humble and gentle
And practical and kind;
And that you had a laugh to span the stars
Dreams to bridge great chasms.

I know that it doesn’t matter to you, not now,
But the truth of these words have stuck in my heart:
“Say what you like about melodrama,
it beats confusion.
The truth is we ought [to] have a chance to say a little something when it’s getting dark.
We ought to have a closing scene.”

[Quote from Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome]