Monday, December 11, 2017

IF?

IF?

Such a short word. Such a seemingly unimportant word. Two little letters, asking a truly monumental question across the ages. This utterly simple word "IF" is made up of two little letters and yet it asks the deepest and most dangerous question of all.

"What if?"

Questioning basic ascertains is a dicey game. Questioning the assumed certainties is always dangerous. It opens you up to accusations of infidelity and even heresy, no matter the prescribed orthodoxy, religious or secular. Asking "if" amidst the self assured assumptions of the masses can, and often does, put you in the cross hairs of the Thought Police of whatever Orthodoxy you're questioning.

I was an ideological pilgrim looking for some sure epistemic footing. My familial and religious as well as epistemic background was utterly chaotic, a truly Hebraic "אי סדר" or "Tohu Va-Vohu". Out of the swirling mass of spiritual and emotional gyrations which were my youth in my mental and emotional childhood, I sought after certainty, utter certainty. I needed absolute metaphysical certitude.

Therefore epistemic and religious fundamentalism became my home for well over two decades. I needed it. My world was filled with quicksand and I needed something a bit more solid, both physically and philosophically. And for many years it served me well. I needed that certainty. It helped me navigate many difficult years in my life.

It gave me ground to stand on. Again, I needed that. I bounced around different fundamentalist churches in NYC and later in West Michigan. They ALL had their "certainties" one and all. Whether Baptist, Reformed or otherwise, or Nazarene, or Plymouth Brethren or OPC, they ALL knew they KNEW the TRUTH. And, in a sense, they did. But, like us all, they, and I, look at the truth from an acute angle, we saw this truth, but rarely from outside ourselves.

Part two happens soon...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sweet Tea

Your voice is sweeter than sweet tea.
If I listen to you any longer
I just might get diabetes.

Just listening to your twang
and the lilt in your voice
and my Appalachian heart
ain't got no choice.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Emotional Intimacy

John.

In every case your name has been the same. John M., in the men's homeless shelter, in the bunk next to mine. You were my beloved, even as we both walked forward towards what it meant to be human in very different ways. We were straight, thought most of our friends thought we were gay. We trusted each other. That's what mattered. The stoop of the Catholic church was our sanctuary. Sidewalks were our pew. Both outsiders in very different ways, we looked into each other and saw each other deeply. You trusted me and I trusted you.

John.

I taught your Friday classes. I tended your plants and fish. Your descriptions of how to take care of them sometimes ran into ten pages! You let me drink your cheap beer when you were out of town. You were SO meticulous in how you dressed and your jokes were almost ALWAYS inappropriate, but always hilarious. The Greek and Roman plays performed at your house were always amazing. And yet you were always the consummate professional. Though the jokes were ribald, you personally never crossed the line. You played your cards close to the chest until the day you died.

John.

I noticed how beautiful you were the moment you arrived. You were surprisingly feminine in oh so many ways. Your eyes, your lips, your gentle laugh. It didn't hurt that you're a cross breed gorgeous human being. I'm so glad we got to know each other as friends, sharing honestly with each other. Though it was painful for me, I was glad you found her as a mate. She's one I too was attracted to, and for good reason. She's straight up gorgeous. After all, I do love the lady parts notwithstanding my history of male emotional intimacy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Religious Runaways

The runaways from religion and the escapees from churches are sometimes the very people God says are cool with God.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Redemption is Extremely Nigh

I tried sleeping that night, but to no success. My betrothed husband kept guard outside, successfully. He always did the right thing, protecting me against every enemy, near and far. Joseph is a good and decent man. If nothing else, he always protected me. His hands were hard, but his heart was soft. I will always love him for that. He's a good man. I love him for that.

An angel showed up and overshadowed me, telling me that I'm now pregnant. On this Advent Day, God showed up as Jesus of Nazareth.

Here's Mary's Redemption Song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJXKfbAE5vo

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday Night Poetry

Listening to Jason Isbell as the walls cave in all around me, invisible to everyone else, and mostly too to myself. Self reflection leaves me in a reflecting pool of narcissistic drownings leaving me gasping for existential air. Depressive visionaries have always enraptured me from days of old. These old disabled friends always able to sing into my own special disabilities seen and unseen. Freaks, queers, oddballs, every one, even me. This, strangely enough, has always given me comfort.

Some poems don't rhyme and that's OK.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Endless Days

Pogo stick springs singing and springing into the air
even as fall falls into the darkening night of autumnal night air.
The rhythmic sounds resounding reminding me of endless days of yore
when daylight never seemed to end until the dinner bell rang.

Potatoes, mashed by hand. Meatloaf, me and Karen helped to knead with mom's help
on top of the kitchen table with our little kid hands.

She told us to take out all of our aggressions on that ground beef with relish.
We were broken and we knew it. Making dinner by hand was our therapy. She knew it too.

The endless days ended long ago
but it's nice to hear echoes of that distant land
in the sounds of a bouncing Pogo stick.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Autumn

The Plant. That damned plant. I watered her like no one could ever possibly hope for. She starved for my attention like no one in my life. Her roots, like tendrils, gripped my attention and desires. She was insatiable. All I could think of was how I could satisfy her desires. Her leaves were so beautiful. So colorful, so bright. But I wanted them even brighter. Autumn always beckons, does it not? The necrofiliac season seems to unreasonably reason us into the season of death and decay. I loved the smell of her death as she crunched underneath my feet. This is my favorite time of year.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Rejection

It was such a beautiful morning. A rare beauty.

All of it was so special. My work day was magical to say the least. I was astounded at how much we got done that day.

The rain which poured down was so soft and pure and softened the land beneath my feet. The leaves glistened and hissed at their falling cadence.

Even the critters sang along.

Would that Nature would sing along.

But my voice. But my voice which sings so differently.

Sings a discordant song. A minor key needed by me.

I can't, or is it "will" say what is inside my soul?

Dare I say, dare I say

Dare I say Rejection

From within my own soul?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

I Miss Your Kiss

Your breath breathed into my own
in our hometown.
And our arms embraced
almost like a tomb.

I miss your kiss
Lips encircled into mine
tongues intertwined
feeling each other's heartbeat
landmines intertwined.

You never wore lipstick
and I loved you more for that.
The taste of your breath
honest, insecure,
a dirty little brat.

This is who you are.
This is who I am.
A reality too far.
Damn, damn, damn.

Red Hair District

My first memory of you was when you disastrously mishandled the Jiffy Pop popcorn in Sayerville, NJ as we all laughed so hard as you cried over cutting away the aluminum foil on the stove top burners and the popcorn flew all across the kitchen. I was still too young to notice how beautiful you were. You had a red headed sexiness about you that even my older brother couldn't help but notice and comment about.

Betsy was your nickname we all knew, a Jersey girl who became the Southern Belle with that newly developed thick North Carolina twang which bewitched me the moment we arrived in Burlington, North Carolina. I shouldn't have fallen for you, but I did. You somehow managed to awaken my sexuality. You reconfirmed what team I was playing for. You taught me how to overcome my phobia of water by showing me how to take a shower and not a bath in your bedroom shower. I also never ratted you out about your pot plant in your bedroom. I can't help but laugh at how clueless your parents, my aunt and uncle, were about your devious behavior. You showed me Foosball at the mall.

Your freckled face and speckled red hair behavior inspired my love and lust from my earliest teenage years. You awakened me in many different ways. You, showing up in the kitchen topless as I slept in the living room nearby, was also an awakening moment for me. Later, I waved to you as we drove away, weeping, as my mom and I drove back to NYC, when none of it ever worked out, heartbroken. I still wonder how you're doing to this day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Prisoners

The two state officials lagging behind me in their grey uniforms wore them like the straight jackets that they are, though unaware though they are. Their documents authorizing them to follow me are their handcuffs, imprisoning them more than any prison could capture me. But still they follow me down every alley and around every dark corner. They know I see them. In fact, they want me to see them so that I know and live every moment knowing that I'm surveiled. All they know to do is lurk. Why are they following me? When I manage to dive behind a corner and watch them as they try to watch me I can't help but notice that they're uncomfortable as they persist in following me, a nothing person who presents no real threat to them personally.

I saw her out of the corner of my eye today. But I didn't dare let her know I looked at her. She haunts me day and night and yet I can't imagine being with her. I wish I was healthy enough to tell her how I feel about her and how beautiful she is on so many different levels. But I dare not, for her sake as well as my own. I remember when I first saw her bare feet. I knew then that I was madly attracted to her. I honestly didn't hear a word she said as we talked. Her passions are overwhelming. She sings to the angels but hears from the devils far too often. It's funny. At first I didn't really like her. I couldn't get a bead on her personality. She's wicked angsty. Very complicated. I didn't recognize her being coiled up as being a self protective posture. I didn't realize that I'm just as coiled up as her.

I sit here in my solitary room. Hell. God, sometimes my solitude can be both at the same time. Isolation from others is my salve and salvation and my anti sanctuary from reality, Nonesuch as this rings in my deafened ears as the silence rings out telling me lies about myself. My screaming silent lies decry my self satisfied lies which hate myself so much, as such, too much. I'm so tired of the self sabotaging self destructive lies imprisoning my mentality.

The fragmented stained glass is all I have left behind from the church fire from 22 years ago. I got the call from my mother that Friday afternoon after I got home from work. She told me about the smoke billowing from the steeple in Saint George.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

John

I would do almost anything to see you again
my beloved John, sharer of my name.

Fate took you from me far too soon
one a men's shelter bunk mate one bed away from me,
the other a professor with a lilt and lift in his step
entirely divorced from every expectation.

John M., you shared space with me in ways that few others have. We sat on the stoop of the RCC church together uninvited, sharing wounds and love neither was able to express publicly. Others thought we were gay but we weren't. We just loved each other deeply. You never called me by my name. You always called me the pacifist. I saw your tender side hidden by the hardness. The poisoned needle took you far too soon from me and all who loved you.

John Q., you were so odd, but in the best way. I loved tending your plants and fish for you when you traveled to conferences across the country. Your humor was always so inappropriate in class and in your Greek and Roman comedies at your house. Your triple entendre's never ceased to amaze me. I loved teaching your class that semester on those magical Fridays as your TA. Your helped me to love being a teacher to others.

The name John means to be beloved. These two men named John have helped me to understand that truth. Thank you both for that.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Ain't Lonesome By Myself Anymore

I have been a stranger to myself
Unfamiliar to my own skin
Desperate to identify myself
Not really knowing my kin


Heaven help me now.
Heaven help me now.
God, in your mercy, help me now.

Skin has been my game, for many a decade now.
A game with a capital name, explaining how
capitalism works, till it sucks us dry
with dregs in is wake, drag me out of the water now.

Rhyme or Reason

Musicians and magicians twerk the works of the things that irk us all, gyrating the ratings of the false paradings of those who would make fools of us all. Masquerading balls to the walls telling tales to walls too tall till the tallest walls end up becoming talismans to us alls. Perspectival explosions shout shrapnel of notions in all directions, leaving wounds across the "no man's land" of non either/or potions, sent as a healing balm to heal the bombs of intentional discontent. Percolating hatred is sated by placating the nascent self hatred which constantly protrudes outwardly towards those we most fear. We fear them mostly because we most recognize them in ourselves and see a glimpse of ourselves, even if as in a mirror darkly, we see them in ourselves.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Small Part of My Spiritual Autobigraphy

My introduction to the fundamentalist world began in earnest in my late teens and early twenties via Christian radio in NYC and NJ. I was listening to radio on a daily basis, since we didn't have a TV at the time being that we were pretty much dirt poor and always moving from apartment to apartment, generally one step ahead of being evicted. So while I enjoyed listening to music as much as any other teen, I also really enjoyed talk shows about public events, whether from a liberal or conservative perspective politically, or from different religious perspectives. I would listen to various Christian programs on the radio, but I'd also listen to some of the Jewish radio programming in NYC. At one point in my teens I considered converting to Judaism, since I found their ethical center to be very compelling to me morally. But I had been raised in a non-church-going but still officially Christian family, and so I was exposed from early childhood on to the bible and a little bit of religious writings, but not much else.

My earliest exposure to explicitly Christian preaching/teaching was through the Billy Graham Crusades on TV, which my mom always had me watch as a child. I didn't mind though, since his message was always delivered in a simple enough way that even I, a small child, could understand the basics of what it meant to be a Christian. I know that this was the case because at that time, when I was around six or seven years old, my parents had already split up and I saw my father Herbert only on the weekends when he had visitation rights. On one of those weekends we went for a walk down a wooded street a few blocks from our house and somehow the topic of Jesus came up. My father, who at that time lost the faith he was raised with, which had been a combination of Baptist (his father) and Lutheran (his mother), essentially told me that while Jesus was a good teacher, that's basically all he was. And I remember telling him no, that Jesus was much more than just a "good" teacher, that, in fact, he claimed to be much more and that he was actually God in the flesh. Now obviously I didn't really know what that meant in detail, since I was after all still a small child, but I had a true childlike faith in Jesus.

I also recall watching on a regular basis the wonderful Catholic program called Christopher Closeup hosted by the wonderfully gentle Father John Catoir, and each episode, which always aired early Sunday mornings, would offer up a morality play of sorts and would give dramatic presentations of difficult moral/ethical situations. The motto of The Christophers was "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness" and that has always stuck with me even to this day.

God As Jesus

God showed up as Jesus. But what does that even mean? The historical person known as Jesus of Nazareth was an obscure Jew from the hinterlands of the Roman Empire, a random rabbi who rabble roused disrespectful people against the lawful authorities. Is this the Jesus you know? Is this the Jesus who upset everyone around him, contradicting every expectation of what they thought a Messiah should look like?

This suspected bastard child of an unwed mother revolutionized a world known by patriarchy and hierarchy, unchallenged and wholly accepted.

Jesus constantly upset reality by resetting the reality in his midst. He accepted those who were not considered acceptable on a regular basis. He also rejected those who were the accepted norms in his time and place. Jesus was a Prophet with honor, especially because he was a prophet without honor. That's what prophets do. They tell the truth against all odds. They're constantly killed for telling the truth. True prophets are never loved. They're always hated. And true prophets are always martyrs, either physically or spiritually.

Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors and dirty fishermen. Outcasts all. And yet, this is who God casts out to constantly. I'm constantly reminded of the parable Jesus told about the "Good Samaritan," about how he reminded his devoutly Jewish audience that the "righteous" person was the half breed heretic who "did the right thing" when it counted.

My theology has been revolutionized by this parable.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Strange Staten Island Dream

So apparently a combination of sardines in a tin can and a jar of herring in wine sauce for dinner last night (my Anglo-German side clearly coming out), and a night of very much interrupted sleep, leads to some pretty epically strange dreams (which I'm wont to have anyway).

This dream occurred, appropriately enough, on Staten Island, the home of the brave and very strange. It started out in my old teenage West Brighton/Silver Lake neighborhood across the street from the gorgeous synagogue on Forest Avenue I lived across from. I spent a good part of my teenage years living there with my mom and my grandparents.

But in the dream I had last night I was on a wooden moving cart from GCTS and was rolling down the sidewalk past the synagogue across the street and then turned left behind the synagogue through their parking lot (I'm still a member through their FB page in real life) past Liz's house (the owner of the Book Nook, our favorite bookstore in the neighborhood on Forest Avenue), and then stopped at the cross road while chatting with several neighborhood friends of mine as traffic passed by, until a vehicle stopped, which allowed us all to pass over to the telephone building where I was able to gain a bit of speed and roll down the hill.

Eventually I rolled down the Forest Avenue sidewalk towards West Brighton into Port Richmond and finally close to Mariner's Harbor where I stopped at a park to rest. I was late in the day and it was unoccupied, so I thought it would be a safe place to rest.

It wasn't. A very attractive young woman who had blonde hair and was rather petite approached me and started asking me about terms I didn't understand. I was just sitting there wanted to rest from a long walk on the Island. She eventually explained to me that she was talking about drugs, especially marijuana (I think she was also a prostitute), and that she thought that I was interested in buying them at that park.

I was just tired and wanted to rest and enjoy the late afternoon. But a few other folks decided to join us, both family friendly folks and a few gang bangers, who decided to sit right next to me on the other side of this young woman. They sat on my right and immediately started to act against my interests, both physically and sexually, invading my space in both cases.