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Children of the Dawn

Children of the Dawn

It was long ago. I scarcely recall it. And what I recall is vague, sketched out in thick shapes and rough feels, and voices — not what was said, but just the cadence and pitch of voices connected to hands and arms that dressed and hefted and moved me. They carried us through the dark cold night and the day was so hot as we climbed — us kids in little rucksacks on their broad backs — up the criss-crossing dust-and-pebble paths, stones and scrub bush on the slope-sides. But on the top; where the air was thin and the sky a blue infinite dropped over mountain, valley, forest, jungle — all spotted with fields of mist; it was too cold. It was cold because it was so high in the sky and it was cold because it was nighttime in a desert environment, where the air doesn’t hold moisture. Our ankles were bound together. Our wrists too. We sat there on stone thrones as the night fell, groggy with some sweet drug. But I; something went wrong; the drug didn’t happen; it didn’t matter, really; the cold was drug enough — see how the stick bug, caught out in the cold night, see how it slows, see how its blood freezes, see how it turns into the air, into the cold air. That’s how it became with me. I became the cold air and whatever had been my heart and my thought evaporated into the cold cold air. I watched my mind and heart and body say goodbye. A few days before, I’d been playing with my friends on the green mountain sides. I didn’t understand why this was asked of me, done to me; I still don’t.

DACA speech

DACA speech

Can we find ten Republican senators willing to vote for a path to citizenship for the Dreamers? Can we find ten Republican senators willing to go to their constituents and say, “Yes, I refused to use 600,000 people as bargaining chips. I stuck up for them.” Or at least to say, “Yes, I didn’t want to throw out all those years of mutual investment and over one billion dollars in economic activity. Don’t forget: We already paid for them to go through to the twelfth grade, worked with them as they made it through college, and then continued the partnership as they began careers in this country — the only one many of them know, especially since DACA rules have prevented the majority from visiting their country’s of origin.” Can’t we find ten Republican senators willing to vote on a path to citizenship for the Dreamers without entangling that very specialized and pressing (given the fact that it is likely that the Supreme Court will probably soon rule DACA out of existence) issue with the larger — admittedly less clearcut — immigration issue? Can’t we find ten Republican senators willing to help 600,000 Americans in all but the paperwork — whose only crime was being huddled as small, sleep-eyed, confused children into trucks by their friends and family, and then making a life, making friends, joining communities, getting educated, finding work, being people here?

I don’t know what to say, America. The polls show you don’t want this to happen, but can you find enough of a national conscious to do something now, while there’s yet a chance?

A nation is more than a government, more than borders, more than an economy encased in a military. A nation is a society, a nation is a people, a nation is a set of values. What are our values? And can we politically agree upon what we as a people already agree on? Or do we just sit by and watch the unfolding of something that we as a group recognize to be obviously both cruel and (for both the overall economy and the health of local communities and individual businesses) stupid?

But the demise of DACA is not immediate, and it is only extremely likely — not yet a certainty. So then what? Nothing happens. The Republicans take over the House. The matter is appealed to the US Supreme Court. The conservative court almost certainly rules DACA illegal. Can we expect the Republican House to act? Maybe. Probably not without demanding all kinds of unrelated concessions. And today we have a Democratic House and Senate. We just need ten Republicans whose constituents would reward rather than punish them for refusing to use 600,000 of their fellow (for all they can tell: many will be surprised who from their office and community disappear if DACA is undone) Americans as pawns. Can’t we do that? Aren’t there enough people in red states willing to ask for that? Enough people in red states ready to expect the right thing from their representatives?

Anyway, the world is full of essays. The world is full of noise. The world is full of strident opinions. But this isn’t even like that. This is something we already agree on that common decency bid us act on now, while there’s a good chance to stop torturing 600,000 people. Because picture that: since you were three, you have lived and went to school and found a job and worked and made a life in this country; and you never know how much longer before you’re told you’re not welcome, you can’t work, can’t support yourself or your children, can’t even stay, have to go somewhere that you’ve never known — have not even ever been allowed to visit. That’s no way to live, and expecting people to live like that is no way to behave.

Memo

Memo

I never wrote anyone so many love letters.
Never even close.
I kept feeling that I needed to know you, connect with you.
I thought it must be real, but then I seemed to make no progress, so I thought it must be just in my head, but then I felt again a special something between us, and so I thought again maybe it’s real.
And on and on for a long time.

Now that it’s all gone wrong, what do I think?, what do I feel?
I think I should’ve taken the opportunity to ask if you ever wanted to get to know me.
That would’ve been nice for both of us.
To have someone gently show his interest is nice.
You could’ve said yes or no and we would’ve known each other further or not, but either way, the essential friendship between us would’ve remained intact. And it would’ve been good.
But instead I threw all my confusions and complications at you.
And that wasn’t nice and wasn’t good and didn’t go well.
I feel sick, sorry, broken, alone, confused.

What’s to be done?
I don’t know.
It would seem there’s nothing to be done — no way to get back to OK.
But please know that when I add up everything inside of me, I find that my feelings for you are more genuine than all my confusions and complications.

I wish I could go back in time and give you a nice little, “What do you think? Me and you? A thought worth pursuing?” And then listen and accept whatever you said. But I can’t go back in time.

I am sorry I didn’t do this right.
I regret it more than I can say.

Dear God

Dear God

Dear God,

Dear Person, What?

Oh, hi, How are you?

I’m fine. Just creating, shining through, and ultimately being everything. Same as always.

That’s cool. Bet it keeps you busy, though.

Well, not really. I am infinite in every way. No matter how much I give, there’s always some left over.

That’s why you’re so generous!

Yes, it is my Nature to create infinitely in infinite compassion.

Awesome! Hey, could you grant me the power to fly?

Sure, go buy an airplane ticket.

No, I mean, like fly like Superman.

You can pretend to exist and pretend to fly like Superman does. Nobody’s going to take fiction and daydreams away from you.

No, I mean, for real!

Look: Humans can walk, they can talk, they can think and invent things; they can’t fly. You want to genetically augment the human frame somehow so it flies: be my guest!

Is that even possible?

I don’t know, is it?

You actually do know, and I clearly don’t.

Is this all you came to talk to me about? Granting you powers that humans don’t need? Because if so, I have better things to do.

I thought you said no matter how much you gave, there was always some left over.

Yeah, but I could just sit around wallowing in all the loving kindness I have for you. I don’t have to carry on inane conversations with you about how you wish you were a comic book character, except not in comic books, but instead in the real world — whatever you think that is!

I don’t think God should be so touchy.

You come here, asking for stupid powers when you should be asking how you can better reflect Godlight in your heart, mind, words and deeds; and then you try to impose your puny human theologies on me — telling me, what I’m supposed to be like!, who I’m supposed to be!

I’m just making conversation.

No, you’re not. Conversation is when two people take the time to listen to one another. What you’re doing is asking me for favors I shouldn’t grant you and then telling me to fit into metaphysical notions I shouldn’t fit into. Not that I should fit into any notion — not even people do that!

Yeah, well, the truth is, I just want a hug from my wife but I don’t have one and nobody else’s hug is going to work

I know. It’s OK. It’ll be OK. Just do your best.

I just don’t know what that is anymore. I can’t think how I can do anything that’s any good.

I know. It isn’t easy. Just try to listen to yourself, to everyone else, and to me — I am the tie that binds everything together; I am the common link, the common Light.

Yeah, well, OK, sure. Do you want me to do anything? Maybe help others somehow? Or like shine my Light, not keep it under a bushel — that kind of thing?

For today, just listen and do your best. And relax. It’s OK.

Dear God

Dear God

Dear God, I am lonely and depressed.

Dear Person, I am also lonely and depressed.

But you are God, you are the cup running over — you are enough for yourself.

I know, but I’m still lonely. I find it lonely being the only free cause that ever was and ever will be. I created sentient beings so I could know somebody, but they’re not of my scale. There’s nobody I can talk to like an equal. You know, like a wife or really good friend, or somebody like that.

Well, huh, I thought the way prayer worked was that I asked you to help me live better and find a better way and then you did. I didn’t think you’d pray back at me.

That’s exactly what I’m talking about! That’s what I need. Somebody who can hear what’s deep in me and be my friend, and not imagine I’m a god.

But you’re God!

Yes, I’m God, not a god. I’m everything and nothing. I’m the Light that creates, sustains, shines through, and compassionates everything. I’m not an immortal person with super-compassion and power over the elements. I’m God. I am everything and nothing. And it is lonely to be the only one.

I’m sorry, God, but that doesn’t fit into my theology. Obviously I don’t think you’re like some super wise powerful old man with a beard and wearing white robes that radiate celestial light. I think you’re everything and nothing, the fire burning down everything, the wheel within the clay, the Reality that Is and Knows the Way. So you can’t be lonely, like a person might be. It just doesn’t make sense. Do you think you could reconsider your situation and tell me that you are not lonely after all?

No, I don’t think so. Can we still be friends? Can we still pray together?

Oh, sure. Definitely. Hey, look, um, could you grant me a few wishes? There’s a few things that I …

I don’t want to be your genie, mortal! See! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Is there no one who will just be my goddamn friend?

John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Project: Biblical figures as poems
Start with John the Baptist
Gather relevant scriptures
For Jesus and his times, I think I’ll prefer Mark, since that’s generally considered to be the oldest of the Gospels.
I guess writings attributed to Paul are older, so where applicable they should be used too.
And figure out a good structure for each poem, for starters we’ll base them on poems by Yeats.

Mark 1 (Young’s Literal Translation)
1 A beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
2 As it hath been written in the prophets, `Lo, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee,’ —
3 `A voice of one calling in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, straight make ye his paths,’ —
4 John came baptizing in the wilderness, and proclaiming a baptism of reformation — to remission of sins,
5 and there were going forth to him all the region of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and they were all baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and a girdle of skin around his loins, and eating locusts and honey of the field,
7 and he proclaimed, saying, `He doth come — who is mightier than I — after me, of whom I am not worthy — having stooped down — to loose the latchet of his sandals;
8 I indeed did baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
9 And it came to pass in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John at the Jordan;
10 and immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens dividing, and the Spirit as a dove coming down upon him;
11 and a voice came out of the heavens, `Thou art My Son — the Beloved, in whom I did delight.’
12 And immediately doth the Spirit put him forth to the wilderness,
13 and he was there in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by the Adversary, and he was with the beasts, and the messengers were ministering to him.
14 And after the delivering up of John [ie: after John was sent to prison], Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the reign of God,
15 and saying — `Fulfilled hath been the time, and the reign of God hath come nigh, reform ye, and believe in the good news.’
16 And, walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon, and Andrew his brother, casting a drag into the sea, for they were fishers,
17 and Jesus said to them, `Come ye after me, and I shall make you to become fishers of men;’

Mark 6 (Young’s literal translation)
And having gone forth they were preaching that [men] might reform,
13 and many demons they were casting out, and they were anointing with oil many infirm, and they were healing [them].
14 And the king Herod heard, (for his name became public,) and he said — `John the Baptist out of the dead was raised, and because of this the mighty powers are working in him.’
15 Others said — `It is Elijah,’ and others said — `It is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.’
16 And Herod having heard, said — `He whom I did behead — John — this is he; he was raised out of the dead.’
17 For Herod himself, having sent forth, did lay hold on John, and bound him in the prison, because of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he married her,
18 for John said to Herod — `It is not lawful to thee to have the wife of thy brother;’
19 and Herodias was having a quarrel with him, and was willing to kill him, and was not able,
20 for Herod was fearing John, knowing him a man righteous and holy, and was keeping watch over him, and having heard him, was doing many things, and hearing him gladly.
21 And a seasonable day having come, when Herod on his birthday was making a supper to his great men, and to the chiefs of thousands, and to the first men of Galilee,
22 and the daughter of that Herodias having come in, and having danced, and having pleased Herod and those reclining (at meat) with him, the king said to the damsel, `Ask of me whatever thou wilt, and I will give to thee,’
23 and he sware to her — `Whatever thou mayest ask me, I will give to thee — unto the half of my kingdom.’
24 And she, having gone forth, said to her mother, `What shall I ask for myself?’ and she said, `The head of John the Baptist;’
25 and having come in immediately with haste unto the king, she asked, saying, `I will that thou mayest give me presently, upon a plate, the head of John the Baptist.’
26 And the king — made very sorrowful — because of the oaths and of those reclining (at meat) with him, would not put her away,
27 and immediately the king having sent a guardsman, did command his head to be brought,
28 and he having gone, beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head upon a plate, and did give it to the damsel, and the damsel did give it to her mother;
29 and having heard, his disciples came and took up his corpse, and laid it in the tomb.
30 And the apostles are gathered together unto Jesus, and they told him all, and how many things they did, and how many things they taught,
31 and he said to them, `Come ye yourselves apart to a desert place, and rest a little,’ for those coming and those going were many, and not even to eat had they opportunity,
32 and they went away to a desert place, in the boat, by themselves.
33 And the multitudes saw them going away, and many recognised him, and by land from all the cities they ran thither, and went before them, and came together to him,
34 and having come forth, Jesus saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion on them, that they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he began to teach many things.

Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews Book 18, Ch 5, 2

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s [Antipas’s] army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure to him.

Under this passage, Wikipedia has the following commentary:

According to this passage, the execution of John was blamed for the defeat Herod suffered. Some have claimed that this passage indicates that John died near the time of the destruction of Herod’s army in AD 36. However, in a different passage, Josephus states that the end of Herod’s marriage with Aretas’ daughter (after which John was killed) was only the beginning of hostilities between Herod and Aretas, which later escalated into the battle.[91]

Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan differentiates between Josephus’s account of John and Jesus, saying, “John had a monopoly, but Jesus had a franchise.” To get baptized, Crossan writes, a person went only to John; to stop the movement one only needed to stop John (therefore his movement ended with his death). Jesus invited all to come and see how he and his companions had already accepted the government of God, entered it and were living it. Such a communal praxis was not just for himself, but could survive without him, unlike John’s movement.

The Stolen Child
From The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems
Yeats in 1886 (age 21)

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

Three stanzas: John a voice in the wilderness; John and Jesus; John’s death

never gonna make

never gonna make

oh he’ll never pull it off
no way he’ll ever make it
he’s too much dogmatist
you can’t be a real poet
if you care more for
the answers
than the journey

whatever!
leave him be!
as if you had it all figured out
the shape of art
and the mirroring of Truth!