Wickedness put down on me (Poem)

 

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There was a wickedness
put down on me
when I was but a child
evil serpentine lashes lay about
with cold metal teeth,
smelling of leather
and containing many eyes

It was black
and it’s bite burned me
my young flesh welting
bleeding, forcing me
to do things I didn’t want to do
breaking things I couldn’t
handle
I’d scream

We lived in a wicked place
where God was fat and white and ugly
orgasmic hallelujahs from drunkards
dry and barren and thirsty
who’s habits were evergreen
if unseen buried deep
in their own shame

There was a wickedness
put down on me
drove down deep inside my body
coiling its leathery scent
around my spine and squeezing
me
the smell of musky flesh bound books
that bled me under the sign
of a cross

Oooooh, I was wicked
naughty naughty little boy
yanked around by my hair
punched in the head
diving under a counter
I must have stolen something
but when I opened my palms to
reveal my possessions
all that was there were half moon shaped
impressions

There was a wickedness
put down on me
knowledge of the fruit of good and of ill
and while the scars are still bleeding
wrapped red round my spine like Holly
i can take the pain of it like a champ
wet, naked, shivering
this wicked man can deliver some soul to heaven
because the child he was has been to Hell

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.

Sinners who hate other sinners

Jesus
So, I’ve been thinking about this guy quite a bit lately.
 
A friend of mine posted this earlier and for any gay man who was raised in religion – we have a fickle relationship with Christ.
 
The other day I made a comment on a Facebook page of a Popular priest, a Jesuit, who is working really hard to reach out to the Queer community as a whole. He seems very kind.
 
However, after I placed the comment about my husband and I, it didn’t take very long for someone to come along and start throwing scripture at me. Leviticus and Romans – mostly. He brought up the Apostle Paul yada yada .
 
When I was a kid, as church would begin someone would lead the congregation in hymns and someone else would sing a special – and that part of the service always had my attention.
I mean, the love of God that they sang about was so overwhelming in songs such as The Love of God.
The second verse goes something like this:
 
Could we with Ink, the Ocean fill
and were the skies of parchment made
were every stalk on earth a quill; and every man a scribe by trade
to write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry
nor could that scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky
 
or take a verse from It is Well by Horatio Spafford
 
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
 
Or how Great Thou Art
 
Oh, Lord my God. When I in awesome wonder.
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made
I see the sun, I hear the rolling thunder
thy power throughout the universe displayed
 
 
And then the microphone was put down and in the ten steps from the piano to the pulpit God changed. He went through a metamorphosis.
In the ten steps between the piano and the pulpit God changed from this awesomely powerful, all encompassing loving, being to a twisted, angry, petty, creature akin to a brat hovered over an ant hill with a magnifying glass.
 
In those ten steps I went from open to the experience of God, not just the message, but my body would react. My heart would beat. I would get gooseflesh and tears in my eyes tooooooo…….. nothing.
 
Not anger. Not boredom. Not fear.
 
Just. Nothing.
 
It is an amazing feat to be a child/ teenager and sit still and stare forward at a man prowling the altar like a lion, shouting, pointing, sweating, and not move a muscle and yet, be as far away as a person could be. This would go on for a couple of hours every Sunday morning, Sunday Evening, and Wednesday night and God help us, if there was a tent revival because then that shit just went on all week.
 
7 days, often times, seven different preachers, each one of them come to deliver us from the pit of our transgressions.
 
And always the same, the music was there. I would be enraptured with it. Moved by it. Experiencing God, I believe.
 
Then. Whamo!
 
The door would slam shut and I’m mentally redecorating my bedroom.
 
There was something off about the message. Mostly, I think, it was because we made Christ into some kind of schizophrenic.
 
My husband has been watching this lecture series on The Great Courses with this professor who is as dry as an accountant’s field manual. Honestly, he’d turn it on, meaning to watch it, and before long I’d hear him snoring in the living room. But I am listening to this guy as I am working and he’s going on and on about the gospels. Not just Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John but all the gospels that didn’t make the final cut. The Gospel of St. Thomas, The Gospel of Mary, and on and on it goes.
 
I tried watching him full on, and im glad I had the filter of whatever I was doing because my eyes crossed and all I heard was, “Bueler, Bueler, Bueler…”
I digress…
Anyway,  what’s interesting about all of it – and I do mean all of it – is Christ was almost Greek-like in the stories. Like it was Mythology. He was petty, mean, vindictive. There were crazy mythological stories about magic beasts etc etc etc and it dawned on me. These weren’t included because they all made Christ and God by proxy sound …just….human. Petty. Stupid. And it was then I realized that these preachers had done the same thing.
 
There was no ascension happening. No moving toward heaven. No moving the church toward God. No rapture.
 
Christ was actually attacked from behind at a gas station, a bandanna soaked in Desflurane was placed over his mouth and he was thrown in the trunk of the grocery getter.
 
It’s like they couldn’t believe God actually loved them.
 
 They would sing about it.
But when it came to having the faith – that was different.
They didn’t really believe him.
That they were loved.
That they were so loved.
The idea that the grace that ‘saved’ them in their circumstances, would be needed to save someone else they deemed inferior and therefore made Grace as a concept, offensive.
That’s why they hang out in the Old Testament so much. They want a God to punish them.
And they want a God to punish those who they see as inferior to them and therefore become the worst kind of sinner.
A sinner who hates other sinners.
I don’t pretend to know the wisdom of God, but I do know the wisdom of man and I think these men – in not being able to deal with God as he is – had to bring him down from heaven and make him dumber than we are.
I remember when I first started dating my husband. When I realized he loved me. I hated him for it.
I was so twisted inside out with what had gone on in my life and what I’d put myself through – I resented this guy who told me that he loved me. I believed him 100 percent.
But I hated him for it. I knew me. I knew me. I was the least deserving, in my mind.
I sabotaged our relationship. I wanted him to hate me back.
When I asked him later on why he hadn’t given up on me. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “You did nothing to earn my love. You can’t lose it.”
It makes me wonder, now, whenever I see a “Real Men Love Jesus” bumper sticker.
Do you love him for loving you? Or do you hate him for loving you because you know you?
Knowing you are not deserving of it.
Thank God, for all our sakes, we did nothing to earn it.

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

16 personal affirmations (all subject to change as I am growing).

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(Photo by the brilliant Ben White)

 

You know, I talk a great deal often times about things that I don’t like or things that upset me. Yet, I am not always vocal about the things that I believe.
Today is Sunday – and when I was a kid we went to church on this day as an appeasement to God of our faith in him as well as an affirmation of what we as a family believed. So, since I woke up this morning and started my day, with music playing in my head as always – I started thinking about who I am and what it is I believe.
I think a person has all the right to establish these things for themselves. I also think it’s surprising – when you sit down and take time to think about things – just exactly what it is you believe.
Often times we like to insert ourselves in other people’s lives, most the time without their permission, and start a running commentary not just on what it is they believe but who they are as people. It’s a really peculiar thing – as I see people who demand perfection from those who’s lives they invade and refuse to accept anything less when they themselves lack this sort of perfection in their own lives. It makes them hypocrites.
Yet I think – in the long run – just saying that makes me one because we all are.

1) Everyone is capable of everything. A few years ago I run across a statement made by a former slave of a Roman Senator by the name of Terence – homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto or I am human, nothing human can be alien to me. This was an act of forgiveness toward his former master. It was an “I understand” statement. It was sage wisdom because if you think about it – given the right set of circumstances, pressure, sociopolitical, and social economic status – everyone is capable of anything for good and for evil. I believe that.
2) Everyone is also capable of redemption – I am a Christian. That is the foundation of our faith. Yet, these days I think there can be a great gulf fixed between those who call themselves that and those who are that. The difference between a noun and a verb. One is a title and one is a way of thinking and while the first is easy to label oneself with, and we see the effects of that title going out before them, its much much more difficult to live. Yet regardless of faith – I think people are capable of change, great change, and change for the better. You are not obligated to be the person you were five minutes ago. But that change, or that desire to change must come from within, for you and for no one else God or man.
3) I do not believe religiosity or the lack-thereof is a good indicator of goodness. (SEE Number 1)
4) I also do not believe religiosity or the lack-thereof is inherently bad either. (See number 1 and number 2)
5) Along with booze, drugs, sex, gambling, and social media – there lurks a far more deadly addiction out there and for me that is certainty addiction. Fundamentalists. True believers. Whether they are some crazy preacher, a crossfitter, a vegan, non vegan, atheists. etc. There are people out there who have found something that works for them and because of that – feel that others must be a part of it and if they don’t then they’re the worst of all humanity. There’s a franticness about them – and it makes one wonder if they really believe what they believe and if they have any faith at all in what they say they are. There lingers in them a doubt that they – nor the rest of the world – can shake off. There is virtue in the statement, ” I don’t know.” That’s knowledge seeking wisdom and I think the latter is extremely lacking in the world. No one runs into an abortion clinic to shoot the doctor shouting, ” I don’t know!”
6) I believe before every soul is born, they once existed with Truth, Beauty, Love, Justice, Wisdom, Compassion, in it’s truest form. These ambiguous terms are planted in our being so when we see an example of it – we know it. These things are a reflection of another time and another when. And I think our entire lives are revolved around, whether we are conscious of it or not, trying to reconnect to that in various ways. Whether you call that being God, Allah, Yahweh, the source, the universe -I think we are given glimpses of this ‘when and who’ when we see the beauty of a rose, when we hear the swell of an orchestra, when we feel the touch of a lover etc. That’s why I think drugs, booze, and other addictions are so terrible – because they are a distraction. They simulate but cannot duplicate that pure euphoria often to the detriment of themselves and everything and everyone around them.
7) I believe brilliance or the potential for brilliance exists in all people. I love to write – but there are those people who can take a car apart and put it back together and to me: that’s art, that’s a skill I will never have. But because they can’t sell their product on amazon or won’t be featured in a gallery – we lower them in terms of what they do.They are no less profound than someone who can sing the roof off a stadium. I think we disregard these creators, these laborers, to our own peril.
8) I believe people ought to earn a living wage. I think denying people one based on WHAT they do and not WHAT they need – is selfish. It’s a value judgment placed on people because certain things are deemed as lesser than what we do. It boggles my mind how an ambulance driver or EMT – the first responders, those who are often the difference between life and death for a person are paid so low. The moment they get you into that hospital suddenly the pay spikes happen for the nurses and doctors. Isn’t that a little backward? Or a cook, wait-staff- I mean, you eat what they give you.
9) I believe everyone should have access to the health-care the 21st century is capable of providing. There is no excuse for not allowing this other than greed. I find it ironic that noun Christians often have a problem with this. If you can send mission money to churches to send throughout the world you can take a tax increase in your paycheck to pay for it. And if everyone made a living wage – that wouldn’t be too much to ask for. And Charity – starts at home.
10) I believe if it looks racist or bigoted in anyway – it probably is. Since I became a disciple of sorts to the late Dr. Maya Angelou – I’ve learned to start taking people seriously in the ways they describe themselves. When someone shows you who they are, or tells you who they are, when they try to ‘whitesplain, mansplain, straightsplain, womansplain (See number 1), or cisplain something to you about anything you fundamentally know to be true – they’re a bigot or their words are at the very least. Believe them the first time. Especially in terms of race – people often hate it when race is brought into a subject not because it isn’t true – but because it hits too close to home for them. When the slave ship captains brought slaves to our shores for the first time not only did they bind the African to their skin color and all the grief that buys them, they bound us to our ignorance and if we as a society do not break this – it will break us. There is no inherent superiority in a skin color nor is there an inherent inferiority. Same goes for sexuality and gender. Seriously, watch a documentary, read a book, or at the very minimum keep quiet about it.
11) I believe in the power of love. I think that if love goes out in front of us, if it proceeds us in all we do, people see that. I think they feel it. And therefore I think that perhaps the hippies were right. I think love changes people. And I am not just talking about romantic love – that love is ego centric. I am talking Agape, Storge, Philia, types of love that English has a hard time describing but the Greek (the original language the Bible was written in ironically) understood. But also Self love – I think we often times are willing to be forgiven by a deity or community or family – but we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. We also have a hard time in establishing boundaries in our lives that we keep sacred to ourselves and ourselves alone. That pure place where we go to pray, to be still for a moment, that place set aside for introspection and reflection. That should be cultivated as I believe its necessary for our survival. It allows a person to stand up for themselves. And as such, I believe it comes from that space that allows a person to disregard other’s comments about their lives, faith, and whom they choose to love. Frankly, its no ones business. Furthermore, not everyone has the support of a loving family that can reinforce them in positive ways. I think a lot of ‘bad people’ in the world are that way because they’ve been told all their life that they have no value. So they go out and do things that would reflect that.
12) I believe personal responsibility is a catch phrase too often used as an excuse for people who have none or who lack the fundamental understanding that every action made has an equal yet opposite reaction. All our lives are interconnected as we hurtle through space and time. I believe that while individuality is important – it is also important to understand that you are also a part of a greater whole as a member of a family, community, state, nation, specie. In short – you are your brother’s keeper. Turning a blind eye to suffering, to need, to dire circumstances, or turning away from love – is irresponsible and while it may not affect you now – it will one day. As one Jacob Marley once declared before a trembling Ebenezer Scrooge, “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” While the realization of just WHAT we are responsible for may be intimidating – I think there is virtue in understanding that.
13) People in relationships get to establish the parameters of those relationships and its dynamics. Other people’s running commentary on those dynamics are not wanted, butt out and mind your own damn business.
14) Art is an act of compassion not only for the consumer but for the artists as well. People who tell artists to sit down and, shut up and, go and – don’t seem to understand that those people extract their gifts, their words, etc from humanity overall. People often don’t like it when you hold a mirror up to them and say this is you as you’ve presented yourself to me. The artist is a truth speaker and truth often doesn’t take your feelings into consideration. Like it or not, like them or not, making them go away not only robs you of the truth but it also robs you of the chance to change and grow. (See number 2)
15) No man made institution is perfect as mankind itself is incapable of perfection. Demanding perfection from those who are fundamentally imperfect is not only self defeating, it’s irresponsible and flat out ignorant. Change comes slowly to an individual and it comes slower still to an institution. Those who call for revolutions should understand that in times past – these things have killed more revolutionaries than the institutions they attempted to destroy. If you’re really interested in overthrowing ‘the man’ start off with the Man in the Mirror and then take another look at the world before you go off all barricades and future subject matter for musical on Broadway.
16) Identity politics will destroy a country. Ideological purity is the product of over simplification. Human beings are a complex specie. Cultures, societies, etc. are all multifaceted. What works for one, may not work for another especially in the melting pot of our country. Those who champion this – while they may be smart, aren’t very wise as they lack the wherewithal to know compromise is key in solving most of societies problems. One must be willing to give a little to get a little. Anything less is asking for a disaster.

Johnson Amendment and the Poverty Pimps

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Lyndon B. Johnson was a Texan. A southerner. A Senator and then President.
He was also the last damn souther politician, democrat or otherwise, who attempted to address the root of poverty.
Johnson’s Great Society was the largest leap forward in education and in wealth this country had ever seen.
Upon visiting the Appalachians and swamps of Louisiana, he couldn’t understand how the wealthiest nation in all the world had such abject poverty in these places.
He was also the author of the Johnson amendment which barred religious institutions and tax exempt organizations from interfering in politics.
Republicans have hated Johnson’s great society and love to point to Detroit as an example of it’s failure.
But what republicans won’t tell you – is after all of this was passed – they went behind it and while they didn’t repeal the law- they just took they legs out from underneath it – causing an inevitable collapse, causing it to fail.
Donal Trump’s EO today, is right out of the G.O.P’s handbook.
Johnson declared a war on poverty.
Republicans declared war on the poor.
See, wealth is supposed to be owned by an elite few. Them.
Anyone possessing any sort of wealth is an affront to them. Anyone besides a certain demographic having success or liberty or freedom, is an affront to them.
They love to blame democrats for ‘keeping people poor.’ Ben Carson likes to tell poor people, especially poor blacks, that they need to ‘get off the plantation’ and lament people ‘being on the government teet’.
And people agree with him.
But the bottom line is thus: The republicans have convinced the working poor that they are middle class.
If you’re not making at least 100,000 dollars a year you are the working poor.
If a catastrophic illness, legal entanglement, sudden death of a loved one – mainly the breadwinner – if you plan on using social security when you retire, if your company doesn’t provide you with a pension, if you are not independently wealthy to survive any or all of these things – you have NO BUSINESS supporting the republican party because they DO NOT support you. And you and what little money you have – are their biggest targets. They want it for themselves.
See republicans – the wealthy top- are hoarders. There is no trickle down anything. That’s the problem. Unlike most Americans they can afford to stash their money. They put it in off shore tax exempt accounts. They won’t even pay what you pay percentage wise in taxes.
Why should they when you work for scab wages with the added bonus of paying for their corporations’ tax shortfall? They have it made in the shade.
But today – like all good republicans do – Donald Trump used religion and the Johnson Amendment to feed into the narrative that the working poor’s religious rights will be treasured by them. So now, you can refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, sure. But you’re also going to be unable to provide for your posterity and the likelihood of you dying on your feet at your job just went up.
Yay – you!

The poverty pimps have won again, sucker.

The Fundamentalist Inside Me.

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The fundamentalist in my head – that little part of me – that ‘thing’ so wretched and vile, so unmerciful and braggadocious, has been whispering to me all day.
In that corner of my consciousness. In the back where I keep the memories of the past so malignant like cancer, that stinks like spoiled meat, has been echoing its angry voice through my head all day.
I see in my head truth becoming a lie. Facts have become fiction. Climate change is ignored for coal production and more fossil fuel extraction.
I see in my head the rise of authoritarianism. Conway is calling the media the ‘instigators’ of trouble – when her boss is the ultimate trouble maker. For having whipped a country into a feeding frenzy with the wretchedness of his speech.
Although, I see compassion blazing white hot. When a Mosque was burnt to the ground due to the encouragement by the sitting president to mistreat foreigners and strangers – Jews, the people Christ first went to, the most persecuted people in history, hand over the keys of their synagogue for their distant cousins to worship. And when I see people march for their rights, for their futures, and for their posterity – it is met with scorn and ridicule from a populace that’s been encouraged to bear its teeth.
I see the rise of white supremacy. “Go back home,” “We don’t want your kind here.” “Speak English.” “Build a wall.” “Turn refugees back.” “Make America Great Again.”
I see the rise of fascism. “The newsmen are all liars.” Denial of Russian Involvement in this election. Denial of the popular vote. The rising up of power hungry preachers into key positions in government ‘to investigate’ higher learning. The placement of a woman to teach children ‘creationism’ in place of good, solid, fact-based science. Someone who will eradicate history. The great agitators who speak of Christ out of one side of their mouth yet starve men in the streets, cut off workers compensation, make health care less affordable, while living in palatial splendor. Those who castigated the Popes of old and called the church “The Great Whore’ while wearing thigh high boots on television with their 1-800 numbers convincing old women to endorse their social security checks to them. Men, more in love with power than the God they pretend to serve.
While that Pope, seemingly powerless, begs the world not to head into the direction it is heading. While he tries – maybe in vain – to steer the world back from the brink by reminding them of supremacy’s failed history. While he tries to hold back the flood.
I see a nation teetering on the edge of oblivion. While the world shudders in horror and absolute fear. I sense a war on the horizon. The drums beating down from inside the bowels of the earth. Perhaps The Church was His church after all.
No, that little troll isn’t warning me. He’s celebrating. He’s basking in the glow of what he sees as this ‘world’s’ comeuppance. He is the one so filled with rage and contempt for the world that didn’t lock step into what he thought it should be. They didn’t believe exactly how he believed. He who thinks himself superior to all others. He who thinks he is saved of the saved and everyone else is damned. This is the voice of radical. This is the voice of a hatemonger. This is a fearful and loathsome creature who can never ever be satisfied.
And no – Donald Trump is not the Antichrist. No. To Republicans and their voters – he is revenge. He is justice. He is law and order. He is no longer having to bite their tongue when someone whom they consider lesser demands equality. He is no longer having to bite their tongue when cruelty and malice rage forth like bile. That turn a blind eye when they see someone on the street hungry and abandoned. When they blame the woman alone for becoming pregnant. When they call a soldier a hero but the veteran a drag on society. No, Donald Trump is their hero.
To us -who know better – He is the Beast.
We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Message in a Bottle (17)

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It’s  been several days since I’ve written my last entry. I’ve been extremely busy lately with the release of a novella I’d worked on for Halloween and have been enjoying a couple of days of stress-free yoga and vegging. But tonight, as happens occasionally, I saw something that caught my attention.

Now I had been following the story of the two brothers Lucas Leonard 19 and Chris Leonard 17, who as Christopher testified were for-  ‘…14 hours…he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.’ during a ‘counseling session’ all because they wanted to leave a church in upstate New York.

Because they wanted to leave a church.

The medical personnel who worked on trying to save Lucas’ life had mistaken him for a gunshot victim do to the amount of blood they’d seen. His brother Christopher survived the attack but will no doubt be damaged from it.

My heart goes out to both of them. But my heart also goes out to so many people across this country who have been made victims to this type of Fundamentalism and abuse over the years. There are thousands of them out there living lives of quiet agony. Many of them trying to get on with their lives. Many of them no doubt having heard of this case, were triggered with their own terrible memories under the lash of unintelligent, uncompassionate, empathyless fundamental zealots that this country allows, to exist.

For the past almost 15 years this country has been engaging fundamentalist zealots of a different religion in the middle east. But what America refuses to acknowledge – or perhaps are unable to face – is the zealots that live here at home. A great deal of those who exist inside of evangelical circles.

Now when we here in the United States think of religious zealots – we instantly turn our thoughts perhaps to Jim Jones or to David Koresh. But the fact of the matter is zealotry exists in many different aspects of evangelicalism in this country. The hard part is believing that nice man in his suit who carries his Bible or the sweet blue-haired lady who lives down the street – are doing things like this. Or who are sending money to Uganda or Scott Lively’s defense fund. Scott Lively will be standing trial for Crimes against Humanity for his influence in Ugandan politics and praises Russia’s antigay stance that he takes credit for.

And during this political campaign, people have gotten a good dose at what that Evangelicalism looks like as 3/4ths of that community have sworn to vote in Donald Trump. And Trump has garnered support from former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann as well as support from Tony Perkins’ Focus on the Family as well as support from Liberty’ University’s President Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham. (Liberty University’s Law Center will be providing the defense for Mr. Lively).

Now these young men weren’t gay as far as I know. All they wanted to do was just leave. And what they are now and what we’re left with is an unwilling Martyr and a Confessor for their faith. They were kids. One’s dead and the other may wish he was, right now. For what? For what?!

I’ve grown thin on my ability to swallow down the anti-Muslim/ All Muslims are terrorists bit that we hear especially right now in this goat fuck of an election season. Because we have ours. We have plenty of ours. Right now America may not look like Aleppo, no one’s trying to sweep ISIS out of one our cities like they are in Mosul- but that doesn’t matter to those boys, tonight. They were brutalized by terrorists who wanted them, upon pain of death, to confess their sins and stay in their church.

If America has declared a global war on terror – to not sound like a bunch of inconsistent ideologues – it out to start weeding out this crap here that allows this to happen.

You can read the article about what happened to the pastor and her congregation here. Those fuckers only get two lines on my blog.

I don’t know what the answer is in dealing with these organizations. It happens all the time. But it can’t continue….

Message in a Bottle (Part 14)

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Fear can either motivate you or it can debilitate you.

I remember when I was a kid the fear that was constant in our  house. Fear of my parent’s mood. Fear of my father being awakened early from a nap and coming downstairs to find a house not clean. Fear of my mother’s mood should she find dirty clothes in a drawer on a Saturday night before church. Fear of having our entire bedrooms tossed, being beaten and made to clean it all up before we went to bed that night.

But the fear wasn’t just internal. It was external as well. Detroit in the 1990’s was like a war zone. We lived close to three rival gangs, Cash Flow, Latin Counts, and World Wide Gangsters (Folks), all through growing up there had been minor gang organizations like Young Guns or even Camel Boys Inc. but they were killed off or chased away.

No, when I was a kid, these were the heavy hitters. You had to watch what colors you wore to school because you walked. Who you talked to. What street you caught yourself on. I remember one time being outside playing when a fight broke out between two rival gangs and watching them exchange gunfire with an Uzi. I was standing right there. I saw how a bullet hit the curb where one of the members had been standing just seconds before and seeing a chunk of it turned to dust.

I had a person I went to church with, die in a firebombing that was meant for his neighbor. The authorities scraped him off the basement floor because the house collapsed in on him when he was trying to escape.

In the summertime, gunshots ran out as frequently as children played outside. Houses burned all the time. Til this day I can smell smoke and it’ll wake me up out of a dead sleep to go and check to see if my house is on fire.

This combination of internal and external stress created in me a very unhealthy and often times panic-stricken individual. Add in the wrath of God from fundamentalism and the fact that I was hiding my sexuality in a deep dark place inside of me, I was in hell. Hell isn’t a place, it’s a state of being.

And my body took the brunt of it. At sixteen I was in a size thirty-six pants. I would eat and eat constantly. In school, I was tormented by other people, mostly male students, for being gay.I was shy, effeminate, and overweight. It made me an easy target. i always denied being gay since middle school, not only because that meant social suicide in Southwestern High School anyway, but because of what I was taught about homosexuality in church meant that I would go to hell. And I  put my sexuality in the box of, “I can’t be this  because I’m saved,” and went on, the best I could, with life.

Fear and violence seemed to come at me from all directions. You never knew what was going to happen from one moment to the next. I would refuse to defecate until I absolutely had to. I would hold my bowel movements and had done since I was little. A sign that, I discovered recently, I was in some way trying to control something. Something.

This was not a life of someone who lived in the United States of America. This was the life of someone growing up in a blown out old Soviet Bloc Country or some shitty little town somewhere in the middle east. (And speaking of the middle east, Dearborn was right next to us and for all the rumors about how bad Muslims are – Dearborn which houses the largest population of Muslim Americans in this country – looked like paradise in comparison to Detroit).

And I was there for twenty years.

I guess I’m sort of a veteran, of what I am not exactly sure. I don’t even know if it has name. But it does have a place in me. And because of that, one doesn’t simply move on. There is no get over it. It’s defined me. It’s walked with me through most of my life. If you believe the new data coming out ACES (Adverse Childhood Experience Study) it may have even shortened it.

(That’s why I quit smoking, watch what I eat, do yoga, and write books and poetry. The Health Department website and Center for Disease Control all  said that this was a good idea. )

And I was always afraid to talk about this. Like I would be letting open some Pandora’s box that I couldn’t contain. That what I would summon would hurt people because I told the truth. That somehow my parents would get hurt and I was protecting them. Or the people I went to church with, would somehow find these words and mock me. Or that people would pity me, or hate me, or be angry with me, or not believe me. I was afraid of opening my mouth to speak.

I hate what they did. I hate what happened to me. I  hate that I’ve carried the weight of it all my life. And I hate them. The church, parents, people who watched and did nothing to help. Detroit, you ugly, ugly bitch.

But fear is a terrible thing. And as I am writing this to sort of put this all down, place a value judgment on it, to say once and for all that this was bad. That there was zero good in this. And acknowledge that I was a passive recipient of this place and all of the evil that walked in it (to include the church). I am working through my fear. I’ve been in a perpetual state of fear all my life to some degree or other. This is an exorcism of sorts.

I wanted to end this in anger.

And then I get down on my knees and I thank God for it. For all of it. For the privilege of it. And instead of hating it. I am made to love it. Hatred binds. Fear controls. I tried running from it all my life. I tried so hard to get away. Afraid to turn and face it. Afraid to let it wash over me and sit in the middle of it. But not anymore.

So to let go. I must love it. I must forgive it, forgive them, and forgive myself. I must have the courage to do so. I must have the courage to not only love the skankiness of all of that but the skankiness and mess that I became as a result. And then, maybe then, I can know peace. I can know heaven. And know God. And then, maybe then, I’ll let go. I think this is the beginning of that process.

I owe it to my husband. But more importantly, I owe it to myself.

I’ll write more when I can.