Fall from Grace (poem)

 

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all at once I was fifteen feet below
kicking, flailing, lungs on fire
I was dropped in the middle of the ocean
after I fell to my humanity from heaven
lead weights of betrayal around my ankles
black water all around me
I could see the sunlight just beyond the surface
turning the water above my head green

Deals with God, please don’t let me die
Deals with Devil, please don’t send me back
I found pockets of oxygen
in the beds of other men, begging them
please don’t send me away
then, I would depart on my walk of shame
down their driveway
kicking my way up

I’d used my youth, and my youth was used
and my face, and my dreams, and my body
as I discovered the truth about me
I was needy, and hungry, and lonely
and terribly insecure
I accepted these things
and the shackles one by one, broke

I kicked hard, to the surface
black spots dancing before my eyes
brain screaming at me to take a lungful
of water
the familiar taste of salt from the sea
my heart beat, thumped, railed, against
it’s steel cage – a lone drummer’s insurrection

freedom was inches from my face
until finally I crashed through that membrane
and all at once, I was free
sweet air, lungfuls, belly breaths
til all at once i came back to me
there I was floating on my back
face skyward – all alone on the sea

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

 

Violence and Scars ( a call for passive resistance)

 

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Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

I remember the day 9/11 happened. It’s something that is seared into my memory.
The whole day I was in shock.
I fell asleep to CNN and woke up to it still playing on the television with picture after picture, replay after replay of the hijacked airliners and the damage they’d done.
The body count.
People standing outside of The World Trade Center weeping, begging God and passerby’s to deliver them their loved ones.
The next the numbness of it all wore off and there I was, nineteen years old, weeping into the arms of my sister.
I was scared.
Knowing all those people died, it broke my heart.
I remember asking my mom if she thought there were ‘saved’ people in those buildings.
The other day, with Charlottesville I sat down and cried again. I’m thirty six years old and later on as I prayed the ‘Our Father’ with my husband – clinging for some kind of comfort – when I got to ‘Thy Will Be Done’ I choked it out.
I’ve lived a long life.
Not in years but in experiences.
I am a survivor of fundamentalism.
I was raised in the belief that I had no inherent ‘good.’
That the world had no inherent good.
I was beaten. Often. The religion was rigorous and I often rebelled against it.
I knew as a kid there was something inherently wrong with them.
I couldn’t put my finger on it – I mean, the people we talked to were polite, they dressed nice, the churches were nice, they drove nice cars….and in a lot of ways, it wasn’t the worst of circumstances.
Until it was.
And when it was, baby, it was a honey.
I’ve seen and been through things too bizarre to put in 9 books let alone one.
My sisters, can even top my experiences.
Those experiences have put a scar in me, on my heart, so deep it cuts into my very being into the foundation of who I am as a person.
And if I am not careful, those scars, get infected.
I have to be vigilant.
There is an old Sunday School song that goes, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear. Oh be careful little ears what you hear. For the Lord above is looking down – in love – oh be careful little ears what you hear.
It’s in what I hear – that requires the most vigilance.
Like someone who’s had a weather related injury, such as heatstroke, or frostbite or someone who’s come in contact with poison ivy – I’ll always be susceptible to the tone of a message than the actual message itself.
Passion, rhetorical flourish, and charisma are the cornerstone of any good speaker. It’s not really in what they say, that makes us listen, it’s all in the delivery.
Think of your favorite speaker, preacher, politician, or public persona.
Don’t listen to what they say, give that a rest, listen to how they say it.
There’s a lot of umph to their message, a schtick they use, they’re just like you….but they’re not. If they are public speaking, have their starched white shirts rolled up, can deliver a speech without any reservation or nervousness, they haven’t been one of you for a very long time. Most people I know HATE public speaking.
Right now, there is a lot of talk about Nazis and their alter ego – Antifa.
There’s a lot of passionate rhetoric being tossed around by both sides. Promises of violence. Actual acts of violence and confrontations.
A whole lot of passion.
We should always stand against fascism. Always. There’s no room in a free society for authoritarianism. Period. White supremacy and it’s ugly older brother antisemitism and ugly older sister bigotry – ruin and destroy – and have never once created a thing.
It’s led nations into ruins and took its people along for the ride.
And while there is something in the idea of standing up to a Nazi and ‘giving them their just desserts’ violence never creates anything. Like racism and bigotry – violence only begets more violence.
I’ve seen so many people on social media talking about ‘getting ready ‘ for some kind of showdown with the evil that is Nazi’s and no doubt – they are evil.
Yet these same people are unaware, or maybe they are aware, that they are slowly becoming being pushed into the very thing they’re trying to fight against. They become the other side to the same coin.
I feel like a fool when I quote this man, because everyone does who try to drive home a point. Bigots have used this guy, which isn’t too far a stretch since a racist will use Jesus and the Bible to justify their deep rooted hate. But Dr. Martin Luther King stood against much worse, so much worse, and was far more effective in his methodology of passive resistance than any armed conflict can ever accomplish.
War is not about success no matter what General stands up and delivers his speech ‘to the boys’.
War is about failure.
It’s about people failing to come together and work out their issues.
It becomes mindless.
To commit an act of violence against another human being, you have to work yourself up into a state of mindless rage and once that line is crossed – there’s no coming back.
Ask the vets who’ve come back from Iraq and Afghanistan how they feel.
I am not telling you to march. I am not telling you not to resist. I am not telling you to just let them hit you or hurt you. No. You have a right to defend yourself from bodily harm.
All I am asking you to do – is listen not to what your side says – listen to how they’re saying it. Listen to the words they use, not in a way that convinces you to join their cause, but what they are calling for.
The French know about this.
While their revolution was probably 100 percent just. It became a mindless stream of violence and death because people couldn’t back out of the frenzy they found themselves in.
There were so many different factions inside of that event that when someone starts to talk about the French Revolution – you are 100 percent justified in asking, “Which one?”
Are we facing some dark times? Yes. No doubt.
‘ The other’ regardless of where they fit, are in dire straights.
But ladies and gentlemen, there is power in numbers.
Passive resistance like Dr. Kings wasn’t very popular in America. He was murdered for it. Like Christ, he used to the parts of the society in which he lived to shame the wise. He held a mirror up to this country and let it get a good look at itself.
Sure you may face violence and worse when you stand up for what you believe in in any capacity.
But there is one sure fire way you’ll be unable to avoid it and that is by being violent yourself.
A man that lives by the sword will die by it each and every time.
Whoever got a hold of those 15 hijackers used passion to convince them 100 percent of their righteousness. The man who plowed into the crowd of protesters was 100 percent convinced of his righteousness.
The man who sucker punched his little boy, and bounced his head off a tile floor in the kitchen because they were angry, was 100 percent sure – in the heat of the moment – he was right.
Curtail your passions. Or they will destroy everything around you and trust me, there are some fates that are worse than death.

Violence is NEVER the answer. All it does is create a whole myriad and painful questions. Questions like, “Why me?”

What’s worse, is some questions then, have no good answer and because of that – there is are scars that never heal right.

You’ve murdered my memory (poem)

 
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Sharon Christina Rørvik
 

 

“You got her beat in the cock sucking department”
drive by words
hidden in my ‘other box’
this is the price I pay
to play a human on your
television screen
Here’s another man
quoting scripture at me
before blocking me so’s
I can’t respond
repent, he says
No matter how many
things I do in life
no matter how many steps
i climb
I am reminded of my lowly
and unforgivable status
for being alive
It never stops hurting
death by ten thousand
small incisions made by strangers
i’ve been bled dry
inextricably fused
to my sex
I wish there were
a thousand other ways
to describe me
that have nothing to do
with how I love
“He’s funny, sweet”
Hell, I’d take
“An asshole”
if it meant I didn’t
have to be put at
the back of society’s line
sometimes having exceptions
made for me
cause you know – I ain’t like
those other gay men
“He’s a vet. Served during wartime”
will ‘faggot’ be on my tombstone?
a passage from Leviticus cut in granite
“Here lies a sodomite who had no culture,
no talent, no passion that can be mentioned”
even though I’ve done
and done
and done?
“He was a poet,”
He’s just an angry man, girl
so much rage
I just too tired to understand
what made him that way
but no, just no
don’t you know how much
that hurts me?
so many years
of this, so many years
I know a grief that can’t be named
“He liked music”
would have been nice
Ha- Ha Prolly, like, Britney. bitch
Guns and Roses are
for straight boys in gyms and middle aged
men with beer guts
I don’t want to live
on the corner
of hate and shame
but no matter which road
I walk down
I end up here
“You got her beat in the cocksucker department.”
Accomplished writer, poet,
vet, music lover, funny, sweet
an asshole sometimes
is what should be part of my obituary
the blood is almost gone
I don’t have any hate in me
I just want to cry
shame on you
i’ve been bled dry
you’ve tied me to a torture wheel
and i can’t get away
from my sex
you’ve murdered my memory

The man by the river (poem)

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(Photo by Farrel Noble)
Three a.m and the wind blows heavy across the night
I’ve been writing about a man I once was
A love story about a man I once knew
Who loved me years ago
In that city by a river
He was a good man
Deserving of so much better than I
But I was selfish and in pain
When I sang karaoke at ‘Somewhere
Bar and no Grill.’
I was a refugee – an Anne Frank
Hiding above in a little apartment
For the world below was frightful and filled with teeth
And by that point, i too had learned to bite
And some nights I would leave
My lovers bed and drive to that city on the river
Let myself in only to fall asleep on a mattress
On the floor
When I would wake in the morning
His head rested on the mattress
And he hugged himself
To keep off the chill
All in an effort to be close to me
I didn’t know it then
But that was what love looked like
And I didn’t know it then
But that was a safe house
And while I didn’t know it then
I knew a man loved me in his little apartment in the city by the river
And now that I know what love is
To him, I say thank you
You were my Memphis in that tiny little apartment in that city by the river

The Rain Remains the Same (Poem)

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(Photo: Eutah Mizushima)

 

 

There is cool wind and sweet smells on the air tonight
As a storm rolls in from the south
Like a gentle push, the humidity flees and the sweet fragrance that was held down
Is flung heavenward as the thunder begins to roll
The raindrops fall in earnest, and the ground sighs with pure delight
And releases tendrils of white mist like ghosts rising from the tomb
The drops are cool almost cold
On my flush skin
And memory leaps forward in my mind
and drags me back in time to remind me
Of every rainstorm I have ever heard
All at once, I am but a child, watching from my window
And then a young soldier taking shelter in a tank
Soon, a young lover listening to the patter on a breath fogged window after we were spent
And now a married man, with money in the bank
each storm reminds me of
How long the journeys been
So many roads, lines upon my face
And history behind my name
But there’s a comfort in knowing that no matter who, and what, and where I’ve been
The rain remains the same.