Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Poem: The dark

I fear it's the same as in the old days

Do Jamaican parents still delight in terrorizing their children?

I'd like to forgive it

to say that my mother and her siblings were country folk

so as they laughed like idiots

at making their children tremble in fear

they were ignorant

that they were building a cavern of fear in our souls.

It's hard, though.

I can forgive the lies they told.

Yes, they were conscienceless in the way they

told self-serving stories to keep their children in line.

I can forgive that.

I can forgive their beatings

and the belts they named:

Stinger with its metal-tip,

Scorpion with its cruel sting.

I can forgive that,

because they were country folks 

and whuppin was what they did cause they loved you

an wanted to set you on the right path.

But the fear and trembling I strive to forgive.

Because there was spite in their cruel power

when they told us of cruel ghosts inhabiting the dark

when they told us what happened to little girls

who do not listen to their mothers and who did not wipe their hands properly

because they had such petty joy in creating terror in us,

because surely there was some other way to make themselves powerful in their own eyes --

other than stampeding kids' hearts.

Because even now the cavern of fear they built inside me

is still operational

when the phone rings

when the mailman comes

when I feel some sudden change in my body.

Because these are seeds 

my mother, aunts, and uncles planted in me

and all that terror

all that fear

is still ingrained

and ever blossoming in me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Poem: Spin

I'm not wise enough

or insightful enough

to see beyond

the web of the cultural narratives

being spun above ny head!

I cannot push an envelope

if I'm unaware of its size

or go outside a box

if I don't know its shape

but I'm wary of

how certain stories are framed --




I cannot, will not, challenge.

I wouldn't know where to begin.

Nor am I particularly argumentative...

but yes,


I suspect Spin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

poem: the ones who bring us joy

In the sermon of an ancient writer, a Puritan,

we are commanded

always to pray

for those who entertain us:

the lovely, the witty, the beautiful.

For they give us joy, he said.

It's true.

We use them.

Their wit, their prettiness.

Then we go on our way.

There is someone, very lovely,

beautiful to look at,

whom I have loved.

He lives in my daydreams

and sexual fantasies.

An object.

And I must rememdy this.

Because the beautiful are not made

to inhabit my fantasies.

They live and breathe and grieve and fear.

So, yes, beginning today

I will begin to pray for this person

this lovely beauty

who has

for six months

been my object of desire,

my  desired


Monday, August 11, 2014

Poem: The nakedness and helplessness of sleep

And nightly,

the nakedness and helplessness of sleep


shed ourselves of clothes and fears.

lying in bed

blankets our only cover. . .

we unarm ourselves of

day's vigilance. . .

our eyes and ears

put away

like sentries removed from duty.

letting go

of self-care. . .

trusting that we're


into invisible but capable Arms.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I must learn this

A writer friend I greatly helped and whom I taught has betrayed me. She who I introduced to editors and publishers and whose work I pored over to help her perfect it. She is the one who has betrayed me.

I see her work everywhere now, in anthologies and on websites; Her name is praised on the lips of friends who know nothing of our falling-out. I must keep silent. It's the way of the world. To speak up against her would be considered bad form...perhaps even petty. So the thing will go unknown, and she will continue to use and break more hearts and backs.

The world is full of injustice but I remind myself that it is also full of grace. I'm glad of this grace--this world where undeserved favor flows out from God without care for holiness.

"Solomon wrote that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong or bread to the wise nor riches to men of understanding but time and chance happens to them all."... I've been blessed in many ways that I honestly don't deserve. So, all Praises to our gracious God.

I must try to see clear..that I may clear my heart from this bitterness. The world is full of false friends and smooth betrayers who have convinced themselves that all we have is rightly theirs.

Therefore -- with regards to grace-- we are like them, and they are like us.

They, like us, have received stuff we do not deserve...while others more talented, holy, wiser than we are have been shafted. It's a shame. But we humans like the idea of worth and deserving. So then I can praise (when the grace is toward me) and weep (when grace is shown toward cruel and heartless people) at unfairness of life, all the time resisting the urge to belittle the undeserving, the lucky, or the blessed. I must learn this.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Impossible Dreaming

Some impossible dreams are hard to even imagine. My mind literally cannot imagine them. And then there are the impossible dreams that can be imagined, walked in, revisited. At nights, I revisit mental worlds I've made. Whether the imagined world was created for a story or as a nighttime sexual fantasy or was born in regret, a might-have-been shoulda-coulda parallel life.

These wishes and daydreams play so easily across my mind's eye. They are so solid that I can enter and leave them at any time, at will. Because they have been my parallel life for so long and are so inhabited and lived in. The strange thing is that these fantasies are utterly, utterly impossible. In them I am usually young and thin, healthy and unencumbered by anything from my so-called "real" life. And even those daydreams in which I allow my present self to roam old and fat, the task of entering the daydream of the alternate reality is eerily easy.Yet I don't expect to see these dreams manifest any time in my life. Because parallel lives are only possible in the mental world, and turmnng back time in order to choose a different life...is not something our physicists have much power over. I may believe in string theory and multiverses but this particular me is physicially locked inside this particular universe on this unchangeable irrevocable path.  The everpresent God alone is capable of being and doing in the simultaneous past, future, and present.

There are impossible dreams thar I cannot even imagine, though. At those times, it's as if my mind cannot, for instance, release itself from the actual to dare to dream or imagine better things. Try as I might, I cannot see myself well. I cannot see my son well. Even to daydream...my mind balks.  

I sit on my bed and attempt the What-if? Game. What if I were suddenly well? What if my son could talk and suddenly stopped being sickly? What would I do? I try to imagine us bicycling through the town together. I can't do it. I try to imagine him speaking. I can't do it. Whch is strange. I have spent hours in bed daydreaming of parallel lives, of incidents and people who do not exist...of people who do exist but who would never love me...of strange speculative fiction worlds far from earth. I know those strange impossibilities so well.

But to have faith ..to hope for some possible good..some possible outcome of a longstanding prayer...no, my mind cannot conceive, cannot sow, cannot plant, cannot water..such thoughts.

I'm thinking of a sweepstakes in college and a friend who wanted a blender, the second prize. The first prize was a bicycle. This friend simply decided that she would pray for the blender then believe she had received it. Pics of the blender were all over her house. She talked about where she should put "her" blender. The day of the sweepstakes, all the entrants were in the college hall. Before the winning name was announced for the blender, my friend had already risen from her seat and was walking to receive it. Of course she won the blender! The universe had gotten the word that it was aready hers. Her mind and the blender had become one in God's mind. I've had two other friends lilke that...folks who simply believe that good will come to them because God is taking of them...folks who are constantly winning sweepstakes, getting gifts, lucking out, riding serendipity and coincidences.  

Is this why hope is called a discipline by the saints? Must we train ourselves to daydream good things? Must we gather all our mental strength to simply believe we are loved and made to receive good from a universe with a kind-heart at its center? Is that what the greatest battle of faith is? To trust in a God who has created a world where good flows naturally..if we can only rest in that flow? 

St Paul encourages us to have useful imaginations. But how easy has it been for me to train my imagination to ponder worlds and events that cannot happen...yet to have no skill or discipline to dream that things in this actual world will get better.  Can I attain to the renewal of my imagination and my mind ...even now? Can I learn to sit still and to imagine the far-fetched coming true in actuality? Can I own the skill of willfully erasing all the negative images my pessimistic fears have painted? 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Poem: Sunflowers in Fall


and along the pathway,

the tall once-sturdy sunflowers slump

like weary veterans of some cosmic war.

Some, beheaded in summer,

still seem to beckon to passersby.

Others with drooped heads

seem to mourn their decapitated comrades.


its stem bent twisted because of

so many twistings

and battles against poles and fences that hid the sun,

looks up at the others

like an arthritic pacifist

who stayed on the homefront avoiding war

yet who nevertheless...

is haunted by it. 

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