Street Preacher (poem)

 

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Alex Hockett

 

I am the street preacher
saint and sinner
dancing along that fine line
and eternal circle
of life and repentance 
When I dare speak in exclamation points

Loving the in between
like grass that grows in busted concrete
pushing upward to heaven
flat broke, I feel like a million bucks
when it rains upon my brow

There are no pamphlets
no special prayer to yank you out of the world
but there is a dirty hand
that points you to where the food is
where the hope is
where eternity is

Touched in the head
touched on the heart
I stumble around just as blind
as the rest of the self appointed saints
and maybe I am a fool for thinking so
but radical equality is the song i sing

Amazing Grace
has a history as sordid as those it saves
and church can be a canopy of stars
as I open my shirt to show you my scars
that make me bitter and afraid and hopeful
knowing you can’t be found unless you’re willing
to get real good and lost

Damnation is only reserved for empire
and cruelty, and hate
and for those who need to be punished
for crimes, for failings,
for the inability to forgive and be forgiven
those flames also familiar to me

But I wander and wonder
and stare at the magnolia tree
and the big fat bees that bumble along
flower to flower with impossibly large bodies
and no sense of urgency

With a shot of whiskey in my system
and a grin upon my face
a hurt in my heart
and a little room where I lay my head at night
with a penchant for storytelling
I wander
a preacher of the streets
professing a gospel of life

 

Dear God (Poem)

 

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Photo By: Lisheng Chang

 

God can you hear me?
Even though my faith has waned?
Even though I’ve abandoned my father’s religion?
I feel empty.
Poured out. 
I can no longer lean on man’s truth anymore
even that wavers and crumbles under my feet
What was, what should have been remembered, is lost.
Truth seems inverted. Relative.
There’s so much gray.
I feel lost.

To the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
I’ve told my story
I grew as still as a sharp intake of breath
before bleeding myself dry over bare bits of parchment
till every drop has been squeezed out of me
I’ve confessed
and yet I feel weak
like I’ve wandered the wilderness for forty years
telling the truth over and over
and yet the shadows still grow long and the sky turns red
and the bread I’ve eaten has turned to stone

Is this what was meant by the tree of knowledge?
is the act of knowing so burdensome that truth alone
can lead a man to die?
that the weight of it can bring sorrow and pain
powerful enough to cripple the heart
and make one doubt even his own mind
was that the fruit so forbidden
that cast man into the void – not the knowledge of sin
but the understanding of it? The wisdom it provides?
is sin simply the essence of our humanity and the hatred
of it our own self destruct button?

I don’t know
and that is the worst of it. It’s like wine
that never slakes the thirst. The more I learn the less
I know and the more I want.
But to learn is to breathe and to cease is to die
While great world religions were all erected in this merry go round of knives
hating absolutely what it cannot cease doing unless they cease to be
but cannot cease to be by their own hand lest they cast themselves into eternal uncertainty
which is more uncertain than this …this…whatever it is this is.

Is it balance? Is that it?
Acceptance of it all? The light in the dark and the male in the female? is it this that would bring me comfort?
Were the easterners right when they uttered
Namyoho Renge Kyo?
Was Buddha, like Moses, a prophet telling everyone just to calm down?
That even in the muck and mire of who we are
we are still the beauty that manages somehow to emerge triumphant?
Should I fill myself with that?

Dear God, am I going to be okay?

Thy Will be Done –
but you have some explaining to do.

gasping for breath (poem)

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We meet at the base
in the wretchedness of our humanity
in the culpability of all that word entails
for good and for evil

Before we are anything
man, woman, gay, straight
black, white, beige, or yellow
Jew, Muslim, Christian, or Atheist
we are human – born naked and gasping for breath

It’s in the denial of humanity
the exorcism of this truth from their mind
that has brought the assailant his right to murder
different

it’s in the denial of humanity
the exorcism of this truth from their mind
that allows us to sneer at the stink and unwashed homeless
and say, “Get a job.”

It’s in the denial of humanity
that allows some fool to to arrogantly posture
and list names of great men and women who’ve come before
as proof as to why you should be allowed in

The greatest of us were no less human
no less prone to fits of laughter or rage or fear
but their circumstances thrust upon them an opportunity
to ride the potential of their lot into the gates of heaven
while their names remained burned into our memory

We are human beings, before we are anything
the denial of which is strangling our world
in the wretchedness of our ephemeral bodies
we have been made blind to our ethereal souls
clothed in our own short sightedness we leave our society gasping for breath.

Unbeliever (poem)

 

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I am an unbeliever
some would say an atheist
but not toward this thing we call God
no, it’s more complicated than that

I look upon creation
and like Franklin see a Creator
but when my gaze falls from the stars
I see the steeples and domes of worship

It’s in that transition
from the Empyrean to Terra Firma
where my eyes shift from wide wonder
and furrows into suspicion

I can gaze into heaven
and believe. For despite the scapegoat of
‘mysterious ways’ and how the devil
‘walks about like a lion’ neither seems true

All I have ever witnessed with my eyes
or read in tomes of our history for good or for ill
has been wholly and inexcusably human
event after event in the affairs of man on earth

Yet I am not unconscious
of the hypocrisy of my myopic view
for I have never trod the path of angels
am the weakened flesh personified over and over

However, I do believe that sin
is rooted far more inside of intention
of evil than stumbling into it upon accident
when good intentions have paved our paths to Hell

It would take a God
to see what I see and yet still
love a church, synagogue, and mosque
and not become an atheist in his regard of man

I don’t like myself (poem)

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I don’t like myself
I feel the weight of those words in my mouth
slanderous, murderous, suicidal words
but true words none the less

When someone says they love me
i wonder – god, what’s wrong with them?
something must be, for someone to like me
they can’t possibly be operating with a full deck

I’ve never liked my body, my voice –
well, that’s okay I guess
it’s deep enough to pass for straight
if it weren’t for the hard S on the end hissing
my truth clipped in northern exposure

My mind is as a shattered glass door
painstakingly super-glued back in place
the wind whistles through the cracks and missing pieces
and everything beyond is distorted, surreal, and as
jagged as my tongue

My emotions, God, where do I even start?
If I said, “Is like herding cats.’ would you understand?
Its like many people in a room all talking at once
overwhelmingly present, often unpleasant
and hushes only when someone gets behind the mic to speak

I drink down everything everyone says to me
i roll it over my tongue to try and understand
if they’re right – for I am not sure
and it takes me awhile to run it through the library
of insults and things said about me
with each new one, the methodical search begins anew

Its so bad – I’ll tell you – my image of self
and tho I’ve been married almost four years now
sometimes I wonder if my husband really loves me
or if he stays because people who don’t like themselves
are often amazing in bed.

Deadly, the clock on the nail on the wall (Poem)

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(Photo: Eder Pozo Perez)

 

Deadly, the clock on the nail on the wall
a constant reminder of the seconds spent and going fast
the world is trembling underneath the weight
of dissolution antipathy for itself

Murder, is a broken tail light
in the name of Justice men are thrown from rooftops
say her name, say her name, say her name is chanted
However, Destiny is no longer a child – but a wilted bitter old woman
angry that bitch down the street with the four kids
is getting WIC when she can’t get a raise in her stipend
as if it’s the mother’s fault and not the ak47 that took her husband away in some desert far from home

Fear, is the preacher rising like a star
who’s teacher was geography that informed his philosophy
and now power is the lust between his legs
with a wolfish grin and a blade in his eye he ushers the flock of poorer than he
who foolishly pay him to beat them in the face with their own humanity
before he drives away in his Mercedes Benz.

Hate, is the word passing the lips of those
who empower long dead cowards who’d set their grandparents’ world on fire
when people stand up, the exorcists, trying to banish the demons
that try and cast them back to the void, the pits of hell, from whence they came
become the aggressors in the twisted tales told on conservative news.

Armageddon – is the revelation
of self interest, Ayn Randian theology
of me, and mine, and thee, and thine
no money? Well die.
Your problem, not mine

Deadly, the clock on the nail on the wall
a constant reminder of the seconds spent now pounding like a hammers’ blow
suddenly, deftly, drawn out
where anxiety is riddled not in the knowledge of the passing of time
but for when it all comes screaming to an end.