Sunday, August 5, 2018

How Close Do You Have To Get

How close do you have to get
to someone's feet
for your tears to
wash the dust and grime away?
To dry them with your hair?
Even if
your hair
came to your waist,
To use it as a towel
means getting
Beyond even
the tears and kisses
we're told she lavished on Him,
There is this moment
When what started out
as "I will take my purfumed oil
and anoint His head,
when I get the chance.
He will understand how much
it meant
To hear Him speak
of God's love for even me."
This moment
when all that changed
And soft tears of gratitude
became an angry flowing rage.
"How could he!?!
Simon didn't even offer
Him water for His feet!"
And before she knew it
She's no longer crouched
along the wall with the others,
She's on her knees
washing His feet with her tears.
The purfumed oil
almost an afterthought now.
Feet must be dried first.
But with what?
Hardly a beat, before
she unwrapped her hair
In defiant, spontaneous love.
Shaking it out to hang loose
in that unconscious manner
that signals layers and layers of intimacy.
"If you won't show Him
the love He deserves,
by God, I will."
How close do you have to get
to dry someone's feet
with your hair?

When was the last time
I threw
caution and social expectation
decorum and decency even
to the wind
Threw myself in gratitude
at His feet,
And got that close to Jesus?

And what if I were to take
That dangerous step
of following the thought
That snuck up on me
in early morning
in the place between dream
and waking
Popping my eyes open:
If I am to meet Jesus in the world
in those who are least
Those who are denied
not just for their feet
but even to drink
Not given a kiss of greeting
but meet arrest and family separation
at the door;
Not just these,
But the millions who are treated
as though they have
no place at the table;
Can't I keep my distance Lord?
How close do you have to get
to someone's feet
to dry them with your hair.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

We Are All Habiru

We are all Habiru
The ones left behind after Babylon and Assyria whoever else
Romp and stomp their way through Israel
We are that remnant left behind
we're not the Daniels or the Princes or the High Priests
Carried off into exile;
We are the 'am-ha'ares, people of the land,
and it wasn't meant as a compliment
The Bible records no prophets for them
The only voice they seem to have is the book of Lamentations.

But there are prophets
for Habiru for 'am-ha'ares
They are the brush arbor preachers of the slave community;
Proclaiming even as the plantation culture
Or the world built on warfare
The world that claims that those who do not have money
Are simply commodities
To be bought and sold
and sold to at higher prices
Loaned to and extracted high interest from,
In the midst of this death-dealing
Land of Pharaoh Nebuchadnezzar
Plantation boss
Jim Crow and Jim Crow Jr
As centuries of oppression of stretching out
Generation after generation
Even as these proclaim that they are in control
It is the brush arbor prophets who cry out
You are somebody
You are a child of God

They did not cry from the sidelines
Or from positions of power
They knew exactly what their congregations
Returned to after the last amen
for they returned there as well
They stood in the torrent
Of swirling racism
And economic cruelty
And proclaimed
You are somebody
You are a child of God

And when Unite the Right
Comes to the home of its Godfather
To celebrate how "some of them are really nice people,"
And the tax breaks flow to the wealthy,
While the children are caged at the border,
And oil spills poison the land,
As a false god rises demanding
That the people bow down to his orange gold statue;
These prophets and their spiritual descendants 
continue to cry out 
to 'am-ha'ares and Habiru
You are somebody
You are a child of God

May we like the prophets in the brush arbor
Proclaim amidst the lamentation
To those entrusted to our care
You are somebody
You are a child of God

Justice will roll down like water
Like a tsunami
sweeping every false idol before it.
The day is coming
When every child will be reunited
With its parents
When the land that now cries out in pain will burst forth with flower and song
When the clay feet of the idols will crumble
and the orange gold of their heads comes crashing down
to lay forever in the dust

For we know the secret they cannot imagine
we who are the Habiru, the 'am-ha'ares
We cry out and God will come
Though the world does not know us
We are somebody
We are a child of God

Sunday, July 22, 2018

First Language

The only language spoken
in the next world
will be Love
Best to become fluent now.
Speak it every day
Speak angry Love in the face of injustice
reconciling Love in time of healing
Speak grieving Love in sorrow
dancing Love in time of joy
Til the laughter filled tears
of Love
proclaim the Charis that cannot tell
Who is giver and who received
And Love becomes at last
our first Language

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Hosea 2018

My rage boils over
at my lover, my spouse
He will not stop drinking
and he comes home smelling
Of cheep booze
and other women.
His car is pocked
with deep dents,
I like awake praying that
he makes it home
without killing anyone.
But there is blood on his bumper,
he thinks no one can take his keys.
When we were young I fell
in love with his dreams
of equality and justice, and how
he would share them with everyone.
But soon that whore Racism
and her slut sister Greed
Were shooting him up in the alley.
They took turns
picking his pocket
while the other fondled him
and promised him blow jobs.
I cannot go on, but I cannot let go
My lover, my spouse,
my Captain America
is killing himself and refuses
to see that he
is killing me too.
Do not tell me to be civil
that I sound like a shrew
screaming at him when he
crawls home from Charlottesville
or some border dive
in the oily wee hours of the morning.
My rolling pin is in my left hand
the frying pan in my right
My lover, my spouse is
killing us both
But I won't go without a fight.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

It's Different When It's Your Neighbor

Jesus called the man
with the withered hand
to stand beside Him
in the front of the synagogue.
That always bothered me.
Wasn't it enough
that accident
or accident of birth
had left this man so crippled?
Why did Jesus have to show him off
like a sideshow freak?
Why shame him further?
But no,
I've come to believe
that what Jesus did
Was stand a neighbor they all knew
in front of them
And ask
Is this what Torah means?
You've heard what the Pharisees said
But really?
This is your neighbor, your friend
he worships here every Sabbath.
Will you deny him healing
Based on their tense interpretation
of what was meant to give life?
Or will you risk their wrath
and say
That there is another way,
The one that loves the neighbor?

Funny how
We keep having to ask
the same questions.
It does seem to make a difference
when it's someone we know.
Maybe our circle of friends
needs to get bigger.

I Have Choked On The Words Of The Gospel

I have choked on the words of the Gospel
When I realized what it meant
to speak Jesus
Into the 21st century chaos
To really and truly proclaim
Freedom to the captive
Recovery of sight to the blind, and
The coming of the Jubilee Year
on Wall Street as well as Skid Row.

I have gagged on the words of the prophets
To be seized with the awareness
That if I were to speak them
I might also have to pronounce
the judgement of exile and defeat
On my own nation.
We all know how well that goes over
At the 4th of July barbecue

So I have choked
and gagged
And stammered out,
"The Word of the Lord,
Thanks be to God"..... really?!?

No wonder Moses
Claimed to have a speech impediment.
Maybe that's why he needed Aaron
Who wasn't raised
In the privilege of Pharoah's court
And could speak the rage
Of the ones at the margins

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Beast That Stalks America (two poems)

Three months
ago I stood with those
who swore "No More"
And raised our voice
as one to say
But it was not.
In fact
the Beast creeps closer
this time
a parishioner says to me
"We knew one among the dead."
A friend
fondly and sadly
remembers another.
The killings took place
not far from my house
Across the street
from where we shop
and eat.
The Beast fed there yesterday.
How long
before it makes it's way
To me

Trump did not create the Beast
it has been prowling America
for centuries.
This mix breed mutt of hatred
Showing the markings
on it's fur
of racism and fear of strangers.
An animal know
for savagery and violence
that attacks
with little provocation.
Trackable by the steaming
feces left behind:
Slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow,
Internment Camps.
No, Trump did not create the Beast
But when it came
to the back door of his campaign
He fed it scraps
scratched it behind the ears
Then invited it in
to eat off his table
and sleep at the foot of his bed.
He goes for a walk and whistles
so the Beast will tag along.
Trump does not put it on a leash
"It's not mine," he says, "it's
just a stray. Besides, some of
these Beasts are very nice animals."
And when the Beast
leaves a pile
of gun violence, racially charged
police brutality
And children snatched
from families fleeing horror,
In the middle of our nation's lawn
He does not scoop
the shit left by the pet he does not claim.
And when the neighbors complain
he says
that they are being uncivil,
that Beasts have rights too.
Trump did not create the Beast
it's true.
And we must find ways
to make the breed extinct.
In the meantime he'd better leash up
his Beast
and read a bit of history
about those who thought
that keeping such as house pets
was safe for the ones
Who thought they were in control.