All posts in Poetry

  • Peace Donkey On Palm Sunday

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    Peace Donkey On Palm Sunday
    Blind Man At The Gate

    The king approaches on Palm Sunday
    Forsaking the glorious war horse
    To ride a ridiculous peace donkey

    Gentle as the wings of a dove
    Inaugurating the reign of love

    Conquerors come with hubris, blood, and violence
    Riding stallions of famine, war, and pestilence
    (They tell me Genghis Khan murdered all of ten million)

    The Prince of Peace comes without breaking a bruised reed
    Swords are now for plowing, spears are now for pruning
    (I’ll tell you for a fact, Jesus of Nazareth killed nary a one)

    If Hosanna praises rocket’s red glare: Weep over Jerusalem!
    If Hosanna acclaims kingdom come: Let the rocks cry out!

    BZ
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  • War Is…

    Syria (2012)
    War Is…
    Blind Man at the Gate

    War is stupid.
    War is wrong.
    War is impatience.
    War is song…
    Made silent.

    War is hate.
    War is haste.
    War is rape.
    War is waste…
    Of precious life.

    War is murder.
    War is money.
    War is pride.
    War is profit…
    Woe the profiteers!

    War is old.
    War is told.
    War is gold.
    War is sold…
    To remorseful buyers.

    War is swords.
    War is tanks.
    War is bombs.
    War is banks…
    Of filthy lucre.

    War is Auschwitz.
    War is Hiroshima.
    War is Nagasaki.
    War is humanity…
    Hanging by a string.

    War is Hell.
    War is Hades.
    War is Sheol.
    War is Gehenna…
    Valley of the dead.

    War is seen.
    War is obscene.
    War is famed.
    War is declaimed…
    By the Christ.

    War is named.
    War is shamed.
    War is sham.
    War is banned…
    By the cross.

    War is ancient.
    War is always.
    War is ever.
    War is over…
    If you want it.

    War is Cain.
    War is cruel.
    War is crucifixion
    War is cancelled…
    With resurrection.
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  • The Magi and I

    journey-of-the-magi

    T.S. Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi with my quasi-interpretation of it. Which is more than an interpretation — it’s also a kind of autobiographical confession; for I too have had a hard time of it. And like Eliot’s Magi I would do it all over again.
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  • The World As It is (An Advent Poem)

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    The World As It Is
    (An Advent Poem)
    Blind Man at the Gate

    I take the world as it is and still believe

    Debauched and beautiful, sordid and seemly

    Where Kerouac is a secular saint

    Heard uncensored telling his story

    On the road with Dean Moriarty

    In the long run Merton took a better road

    But still the beat goes on…

    Take your stand on whatever smidgen of faith you have

    Smack-dab in a world of hustlers and hookers, users and losers, liars and lovers

    Don’t waste your life on a pastel watercolor faith

    That runs if touched by a tear or a drop of sweat

    Can you take the world as it is

    And still believe in God?

    Can you take people as they are

    And still believe in love?

    Or do you only play at make believe?

    A world of terracotta saints

    Of little houses on soundstage prairies

    So not at home in the world as it is

    That you can’t wait for it to be left behind

    That, my friend, is no real faith

    It’s scripted B-movie phoniness

    Rated G (for gullible audiences)

    A real faith lives in a real world

    The world as it is

    Sordid and seemly

    Debauched and beautiful

    It’s the little town of Bethlehem

    Good enough for the Son of God

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  • Out of the Corner of My Eye

    Sir_Frank_Dicksee_-_The_Two_Crowns_-_Google_Art_Project

    Out of the Corner of My Eye
    Blindman at the Gate

    I think I caught a glimpse of truth out of the corner of my eye.
    A ghost, a whisper, a suspicion, a subtle and subversive rumor.
    So dangerous that every army would be commanded to march against it;
    so beautiful that it would drive those who see it to madness
    or sanity.
    Does the whole of my kind suffer from mental and moral vertigo?
    As Melville said of cabin boy Pip,
    he saw the foot of God upon the treadle of the loom
    and dared to speak it.
    Henceforth his shipmates called him mad.
    As Vladimir said when they came to bury Fyodor,
    the spiritual leader must feel the falsehood prevailing in society;
    the prophet must struggle against it, never tolerate it, never submit to it.
    I think I caught a glimpse of truth out of the corner of my eye.
    Have we been so blinded by the bright lights of advertisers’ lies
    that the only true vision is peripheral vision?
    In the age of constant commercialization and overblown hype
    does truth shout with a whisper and stand out with subtlety?
    I think I caught a glimpse of truth out of the corner of my eye.
    It terrified me as I fell in love with it.
    I said,
    This explains everything.
    This changes everything.
    This challenges everything.
    This threatens everything.
    This transforms everything.
    Dare I speak it?
    The truth I caught out of the corner of my eye?
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie;
    they come to kill, steal, and destroy.
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie;
    all virtue is subject to sacrifice upon the altar of imperial expediency.
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie;
    God or gods exist only to serve its cause.
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie;
    religion takes off its mask when it says—
    We have no king but Caesar.
    The ultimate betrayal,
    the final apostasy,
    every empire of man is built upon a lie.
    Marx was more than half right when he said—
    Religion is the opiate of the masses.
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie:
    Self-promotion and Self-preservation,
    Greed and Lust,
    Industry and War,
    the industry of war.
    Long live the Empire!
    Keep the Empire alive,
    and to keep the Empire alive
    many will be made to die,
    because the Empire lives by the sword
    and dies by the same.
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie.
    From Aztec to Zulu,
    Egyptian and Ottoman,
    Persia and Babylon,
    Greece and Rome,
    England and—
    Now I’m too close to home.
    A kinder, gentler Babylon to be sure,
    but a Babylon for sure.
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie.
    So when Christ came
    he did not bring
    another empire of men
    built upon a lie
    as the liar in the desert tempted.
    Instead he brought
    the Empire of God,
    Good News!
    The government of justice and mercy, grace and truth,
    and the truth is
    every empire of man is built upon a lie,
    though every empire says,
    We have God on our side.
    So you will have to decide
    how patriotic a Byzantine believer can be.
    May we be salt and light,
    a prophetic voice,
    a Christian conscience.
    May we preserve and illuminate,
    cry aloud and convict,
    but never forget
    every empire of man is built upon a lie.
    And to stand for truth
    and to stand for God
    is to stand against the lie the empire is built upon.
    And in the midst of imperial self-justification pray—
    Thy Empire come.
    There, I’ve said it.
    The truth I glimpsed out of the corner of my eye.
    And when push comes to shove,
    as it always does,
    the Empire of Men will oppose the Empire of God.
    To know this is dangerous.
    To say it can be deadly.
    Do you think I’m kidding?
    What crucified Jesus?
    Self-righteous religion?
    No, not religion alone.
    Religion as the whore of Empire.
    This is what killed Jesus.
    And Paul.
    And Peter.
    And Polycarp.
    And Huss.
    And Bonhoeffer.
    Because this is what empires do.
    Silence the prophets who will not prostitute the truth.
    Religion is tolerated.
    Imperial religion is promoted.
    But the prophetic hope of another way
    must be censored
    even by the sword.
    This is the way of empire.
    Because
    every empire of man is built upon a lie.
    Constantine can become a Christian,
    but Constantine cannot baptize the Empire.
    The Empire of God converts the hearts of men one at a time.
    Christ the King must himself sponsor each one into his Kingdom.
    But when the Empire sanctions religion for its own purposes,
    the whore of Babylon rides the back of the beast.
    Giddyup and God bless the Empire!
    Every empire of man is built upon a lie.
    I glimpsed this truth out of the corner of my eye.
    To believe this truth will set you free.
    And you thought it was just Sunday school banality
    or empty religious sentimentality
    to pray
    Thy Empire come
    Thy Policy be done.
    You had no idea it was dissident and subversive,
    because every empire of men is built upon a lie.
    The lie that the empire has God on its side.
    I glimpsed this truth out of the corner of my eye.
    And if you ask me my politics, I will say,
    Jesus is Lord!
    I glimpsed this truth out of the corner of my eye.
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  • O To Be Open

    The-Open-Door

    O To Be Open
    Blindman at the Gate

    O to be open
    It’s what the wise ones seek
    It’s what the great souls attain

    What’s a saint?
    An Open One
    Saint Francis and Mother Teresa were
    Open
    Open to God, open to Creation, open to the Other

    We’re all born open — wide-eyed and wide open
    What’s an infant?
    An Open One
    Wonder, learning, and love come easy to a
    Child

    But then we suffer the blows
    And begin to
    Close

    By the time we’re a teen
    We’re mostly tight shut
    Happy or sad
    A clam inside a shell

    Now the task begins
    The task of a lifetime
    The task of becoming
    Open

    O to be open
    An old one open again
    Open to wonder, learning, and love
    To grow open is to grow young

    Much is against openness
    Vested interests stake much on keeping us
    Tight shut
    The talking heads of the tight shut tell us of
    Right and Wrong, Black and White, Us and Them
    Who is In and who is Out
    Their words are a slamming door
    BAM!
    Tight shut!

    To live in the world of the tight shut is called
    Certainty and security, clarity and conformity
    It’s also death
    To live there is to shrivel your soul
    To die there is—
    Well, I don’t know

    I do know that to save my soul
    I must become open
    Open to God’s all-encompassing love
    I cannot afford to slam the door
    To shut the door on “them”
    Is to lock myself in hell’s closet

    O to be open

    Where does the first crack of openness come from?
    It could come from anywhere
    A poem, a heartbreak, a sunset really seen
    A song, a sermon, a mercy freely received
    A birth, a death, a person fully loved
    Let openness get its foot in the door
    And it’ll begin to shovel in the grace

    Open to the openness
    The openness of God
    The openness of light
    The openness of love

    Life is open
    (Ever unfolding)
    Death is closed
    (A sealed tomb)

    Heaven is open
    (Its gates will never be shut)
    Hell is closed
    (Abandon all hope ye who enter)

    Jesus is the Usher of Openness
    He holds the keys of Hell and Death
    To set its prisoners free
    May he loose us and lead us into
    The Great Openness of God

    O to be open
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  • L’Chaim!

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    L’Chaim!
    Blindman At the Gate

    Water turned to wine
    The miracle is the time
    That it did not take
    For common to turn extraordinaire
    Tap water transformed to carménère
    Drawn from pots of ritual purity
    Taken to the master of the party
    Hints of plum and kingdom come
    Salute!

    In Nazareth he was called the carpenter
    In Cana he became a master vintner
    Sommelier said it’s a hundred point wine
    The miracle-worker did it without a vine
    A whole barrel of vintage year thirty
    Better than the best from Cape Verde
    All so the feast would not cease
    A toast to Mary for her idea
    L’chaim!

    We walked from Nazareth to Cana
    In the fall of my fifty-fourth year
    Talking Jesus all along the way
    Took us the better part of a day
    Every other store up and down the line
    A Christian selling some kind of wine
    Call it a entrepreneurial witness to—
    Jesus’ first miracle
    Cheers!

    Water turned to wine
    The mystery is the time
    It takes for my own transformation
    A slow and painful fermentation
    With a soul like crushed grapes
    I’m a dusty bottle in God’s cellar
    But the winemaker knows his craft
    He makes all things beautiful in their time
    Hallelujah!
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  • Deep Time

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    Deep Time
    Blind Man at the Gate

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 7/10—
    Thousands of Millions of Years ago…
    A silent singularity
    Pregnant
    Waiting
    (Of course, it cannot “wait” — there is no motion, space, or time)
    BANG!
    Light and Heat and Expansion
    ALL set in motion
    Gravity did the rest
    Galaxies and Quarks
    (I cannot comprehend)
    We have a Universe!
    1, 2, 3, 4, and 1/2—
    Thousands of Millions of Years ago…
    It comes together, it spins, blue and green
    We have a home!
    For the miracle of Life
    Amino acids
    Single cells
    Life in the sea
    Arriving on land
    The cold blooded rule
    A rock falls from the sky
    Gives the warm blooded a chance
    Living in the trees
    Venturing to the ground
    Running down prey
    To fuel a bigger brain
    And finally the—
    AWAKENING!
    Not only being, not only alive, not only aware—
    But aware of awareness
    Self-consciousness
    God-consciousness
    Speaking of God
    Did you know me way back when?
    Or are you so immersed in the Story that I was a surprise even to you?
    What are the chances of the exact me coming to be—
    When at the bottom of being there are tumbling dice?
    Always planned or happy accident
    Either way, I’m fine with it
    It’s enough that you know that I AM
    Too
    But this matter of deep time
    It tells me something about you—
    You are
    Patient
    So patient
    All that is holy is patient
    Love, Peace, Life
    All that is unholy is impatient
    sin, war, me
    Help me to be holy
    By being patient
    Like you
    With time—
    Deep time, future time, all time
    On your side
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  • The Magi and I

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    This is from last Christmas, but it still speaks to me and for me…

    T.S. Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi with my quasi-interpretation of it. Which is more than an interpretation — it’s also a kind of autobiographical confession; for I too have had a hard time of it. And like Eliot’s Magi I would do it all over again.
    Read more