Poetry

Tragic

It was a blessing,
The ignorance.
To strike
A silky reef
Between the planks,
Farewell between the ribs.
To headline godlike comedy
By chance.

What would they gain by knowing?
To slay a father by will
And not by chance,
To drive a court mad
Not for hasty revenge,
For the sweet love of fragmentation?

Would you tell Peter
Or Paul?
Would you buy Judas his drink
Say you had to talk?

Our eyes drink light
Like juniper gin
And where do we meet our hangover?
Our ears touch the wind
And where do we settle?
In a land of crenellations
Scorched by eclipse.

What do we gain from knowing the end?
A gutshot stumble home
To the heart
In the morning
Star.

How, then

How the eucalyptus leaves
were falling.
How the summer was overcast
and the winter merely
damp.

Then was just the right time
for the weeds and the thorns
to bloom, as much as blood can dry
in the form
of a flower.
Then we hammered no gold
as the wrought iron
did not require it.
There was
too much humid biology
to unstop the frankincense
and myrrh.
Then
those were the days
always plural;
revolving.

How, then
shall we live?
As we have not yet learned
to die.

Screaming

I want to be a pastor but you should work full-time for a few years, understand the situation your congregation will be in, get some life experience (ideally get married you know).

I want to teach theology but my grades weren’t good enough, my self confidence is too low, I haven’t been a pastor and so have no experience in the ministry trenches, work in the church for a while.

Maybe I could have got a job as a youth minister, as a children and families minister. I don’t know what such things are but I could have been one. I want to teach people the Bible. I guess I can run laser tag nights as well.

I’m sick of your nuclear family fetish, when it comes out in the sermon it makes me physically ill and I stare at my shoes. I used to get this nausea when I was on antidepressants and it occasionally comes back, I think I got it before the meds too but I’m not sure. Mental illness, please don’t talk about that either. Pornography, yes, I know, you grew up before the Internet. Would you have been stronger than me? Society is a world of blaring information and you think the problem is my willpower. I already know that. I already know I don’t have any. Please stop hitting me with the newspaper. So no talk about pornography either.

Don’t talk about today’s culture because it doesn’t exist, also because yesterday’s culture wasn’t a walk in the park. I know because it produced you, and my parents. I am not unfamiliar with the past. I am a refugee from it. God, I’m desperate to find a place where I can live. Could you point me there? Could you put up some signs? It’s not enough to tell me I’m building a house from straw and glass.

Don’t talk about computer games, about the lesbian couples I grew up knowing, about dating. Especially don’t talk about marriage as automatic and natural in the church, I’ve actually read the New Testament so I know you’re full of crap. I don’t know why I’m a eunuch, perhaps because I’m scruffy and awkwardly-shaped and no one wants to touch me but my cat. And no, don’t talk to me about singleness, don’t say you understand it, no one tells you to get married before you can be a pastor.

You want a married pastor? Fine, bring me an unmarried Christian woman from your congregation! I’m game. Let’s go! Let’s do this! Oh, it doesn’t work like that? Perhaps we’ve stumbled on the problem my friend. Perhaps you should stop talking.

The list of silences is getting rather long but I think I prefer them. Let me white out your sins one by one because you’re not good enough at reading the mind of my flesh.

Don’t interrupt me, I’m watching alien preachers online.

What do I want to hear about? In the time saved from shutting your trap about all that other crap that I don’t want to hear, let’s talk about this: my grandfather doesn’t remember me, my dog died last year, my niece is growing up and I’m no gospel model, I’m a third through my likely lifespan and I live with my parents, at night I fantasise about getting hit by a car, my cat is acting weird and I worry he’s getting old, I worry the porn has destroyed my eros, in other news I want more friends, I want to open up to the friends I already have. What do you got for me?

No no, no no. I know the gospel. Don’t repeat it to me like a magic spell. I’ve actually read the New Testament, and Jesus wants to scare me as much as you secretly want me to be a fideist. Can you touch me? Can I have a hug? The body of Christ, it seems, won’t compel us to do anything different with our bodies. I would like the occasional ritual. I grew up Anglican I can’t help it.

That reminds me, stop talking smack about other denominations. Even as a joke. I don’t remember John giving us an out if it’s funny. I don’t want to hate them I want to love them. I would be a monk, you know, if I could get behind the idea of monasticism. I told you this once and you thought I was joking. I wasn’t, oh how I wasn’t.

It sucks the marrow from me, to hear our theology come out cut and dried from your pulpit. Our confession, our catechism, the creeds, the fathers – the flow of living water. It should taste like a drink from a creek, like stone and buried treasure. The fathers knew how to give life. They can freestyle, they can flow. Reinvent the universe for me. Strain every sinew of creativity and energy. Go to less committee meetings, we can have church in a park somewhere if only you’ll preach like it’s the most important thing in the world.

Abortion is wrong, right there with you. But also: shut up. Tell me why, and about the sovereign grace of God, and how he holds every human life in his hands no matter how small or bloody-handed or selfish. Sometimes I see news stories about a rapist, and I flash into a dark corner of my mind and wind forward three years, four, watch, an alternate me where inhibitions and binding loves are scythed away and all that is left is want and will and I know that the man now in jail is a monster and that I am his brother. The membrane between us is not my will but God’s.

So don’t talk about sin like it’s out there. It is creeping up my arm and I need the antidote now, or perhaps we’ll have to amputate. The older I get the more I understand Origen. God make me a stone.

Don’t interrupt me, I won’t write my confession until I’m in my right mind.

Could you please love the world a little more? All of it. I ask because scripture does, Jesus does. He loves pictures and words and analogies and metaphors and witty remarks and confounding statements, and he says shit I can’t puzzle out in hours and hours, but I sleepwalk through your sermons like I heard them before you did. I don’t demand mastery but please preach with grace, or shut up. I’m talking about anointing, about the long hard work, squeezing scripture down in the winepress of your mindful heart. Becoming as alien as the word. Can you talk to me in the words which I do not know but long to hear? Can you put on a Galilean accent?

Look, just stand here. Shut up and stand here. We can stare at this tomb together. Wait for something to happen.