Friday, July 24, 2015

And Still the Bullet Comes

Written in protest and solidarity for Sandra Bland. Also, slight language warning. (I am not one for swearing, myself, but when met with an intense outrage, the words can find their place.)

* * *

And Still the Bullet Comes

As if there is a gesture we have yet to bend ourselves into.
Our arms high, our hands empty, our mouths
little more than a question mark shoved headlong off a breath.

And still the bullet comes.
Still, the daylight stranglehold.
Still, the gun-chewed back of a man
too acquainted with the law in coffined black bodies
to not smell the Tallahatchie River in acquiescence.

Still, the poolside hammerlock,
the holster pulled hollow to cull a neighborhood of its color.

As if there is a gesture we have yet to bend ourselves into.
Our arms high, our hands empty, our mouths
racing to pronounce the subservience we learned as children.

And still, Sandra Bland,
fed to a Texas holding cell for a cigarette and a question,
draped in the homicidal cure-all of self-harm when reported
a like-faced antithesis hung from a plastic bag.
Still, the magnetism between black necks and nooses—

relocated from Mississippian cedar to the stations
that relieve lynch mobs of the need for their timeworn hoods.

As if there is a gesture we have yet to bend ourselves into.

If there is a safety in surrender, a certain height of arm at which
can be read in limbs lifted on the threat of a trigger/nightstick/fist...
someone, lower the fucking bar.
A South Carolinian genocidist surrenders his church-bloodied hands
to lackadaisical police and Burger King,
while black wrists are snapped from their display
to make it easier to riddle guilty skin with conviction,

while black bodies are incriminated
by the bones that refuse to move once broken,
by the skin that can never mean DON'T KILL ME, even though
our arms are high. Even though
                             our hands are empty. Even though
                                                               our mouths

Monday, July 6, 2015

Slow Burn

Slow Burn

The fire
chewing through pew
and cross.
                                              We are okay with this.
                                              We are okay with this.
The smoke, thick
and dark, tongues lolling
from scorched-sill lips.
                                              We are okay with this.
                                              We are okay with this.
The night sky,
forced again to swallow
blossoms thought left
in Birmingham's salted
earth, this,
such a different south.
                                              We are okay with this.
The way a church, a
church, and a church
resume some forestalled
dance, bright and star-like
for the luminaries liable to
wink from the tops
of their flagpoles.
                                              We are okay with this.
As if the trees
didn't moan at the whiff
of timber and brimstone,
didn't wriggle the limbs
ringed with rope burn,
having seen this all before,
                                              We are okay with this.
                                              We are okay with this.

                                              We are okay with this.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Christians, It's Time to Stop Parsing Sins

I hadn't intended to make any commentary on Caitlyn Jenner. I figured there were more than enough people doing that already. This morning though, after reading a Christian response from Motherhood...Unscripted, I felt some words well up—not concerning Jenner herself as much as the people surrounding her with comfort blankets and Hellfire, both in the name of God.

There is a fine duality we're called to walk in following Jesus—that is, living in unjudging love while still understanding within ourselves the realities of sin and salvation.

The Jenner transition is just the most recent opportunity for this duality to be seen in Christians, and while many—maybe most— of those commenting on the topic of trans will actually show themselves teetering to one side or the other (reacting with either uselessly-scalding condemnation or equally-useless sycophancy), the thing to be remembered above all is the way we all are equal partakers in the curse that drives our hearts from God.

"...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

This is a wound and salve in one. We tell ourselves that everyone has sin, but how do we actually apply that truth? By honing in on one sin above all the rest? By throwing up our hands and treating it as some vague law of nature taken care of by a God who is more concerned with us feeling good than knowing Him? No. Neither of these are extremes those of us called to live as Christ should be leaning on in a world stuck between Edens.

Understand this: the "falling short of God" manifests in each of us uniquely. Every one of us is born with sinful inclinations and a challenge to pursue God despite them. No hurdle—regardless of how uncomfortable the idea of it may make us—is more Hell-bound than any other, and the person who has made their hurdle into a finish line will see little worth pursuing in the vociferous scorn of people who forget they are still running the very same race.

So what do we do?—concerning ourselves, our families, our friends, the strangers on the street, in comment sections on the Internet, and the other side of the world? To use a phrase all but co-opted by Christians with good-but-compromised intentions...we love. We who desire to live in the Spirit of our Saviour should be satisfied with nothing less.

Let motiveless love be the foundation upon which every interaction and thought is built. Understand within yourself the nature of our "falling short"—the diversity with which our inter-Eden struggle manifests—and always be ready to acknowledge this universal necessity for salvation, if prompted. But do not, do not—do not!—make any person's sin a battleground for the selling point of Heaven. Do not think someone's hurdle as something to be mended with castigation and shame. Love. Trust the power of salvation to the One whose blood and breath established it, and believe He knew what He was doing when He said "'a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,'” (John 13:34).

Love everyone. Without intention or pretext. Let your interactions be full of love and your heart full of prayer. That is what Christly love looks like and, unlike the Old Testament law, it is a commandment we actually have the power to keep.

So keep it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015



Onset: rays of bleach,
trees—their ghosts courting rooftops—
and my melting face.

Tiger-stripe highlights,
earth and asphalt illumined
the stink of summer.

Its yawning azure,
crowned with unseeable teeth—
no such vertigo.

Seafloor, its burden
made wasp and mirage, no light-
er for the transfer.

Exeunt: twilight—
early, with ice on its breath—
leaves, allowed to sing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

5 Oh, Hi!-ku for The Room

5 Oh, Hi!-ku for The Room

"Oh, hi, Mark!" A phrase
made strange linchpin to a script
like Full House on meth.

Rosé wallpaper,
fur-shawled couch—and underwears
that don't belong to you.

Vodka-sloshed acting…
You're tearing me a—oh, hi,

Orajel and ice;
you too can have lips fit for
Wiseau's scripted gibberish.

There isn't a time
that awkwardly-tossed footballs
can't improve… Oh, hi!

Friday, May 1, 2015

That's All (for NaPo), Folks!

Whew...what a month. I've said it a couple of times, but this really feels like my strongest NaPoWriMo yet. I did a lot of new things, and I also did a lot of old things, but in stronger ways. A clerihew, 8 landay, 25 abecedarian, a riddle...15 of the month's 30 poems were geek-oriented...this has just been a wildly-satisfying month. I'm excited for what the rest of the year holds, and I look forward to reading and writing much more great work.

Also, as promised, the Big Poetry Giveaway has ended and I, with the help of a random number generator, have picked my two winners. Drumroll please...

Allyson Whipple and Laurie Kolp! You two have won a book of poetry! Wahoo and huzzahs all around.

I want to thank everyone for visiting, for reading throughout the month, for entering, commenting, sharing...for spreading the love of poetry and making April the worldwide reading nook that it's become.

Here's to the rest of 2015!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Big Poetry Giveaway 2015!

We're two days out from April, which means we're teetering on the brink of that massive, ink-and-font-filled chasm known as NaPoWriMo (National Poetry-Writing Month). I'll be taking on the challenge to write 30 poems in the 30 days of April, and if that intrigues you, I encourage you to take it on as well! You can learn more here.

Before we jump over that cliff, though, Kelli Russell Agodon over at Book of Kells is once again hosting the Big Poetry Giveaway, that massive book-of-poetry swap where poets and bloggers hold contests to give two books of poetry to two randomly selected people. I've done this for the past couple years, and I always enjoy it so much, so I am joining in for another year of giveaway goodness.

You can learn all about how the giveaway works (and how you can participate and host your own giveaway, if you wish) at Book of Kells, but here's the quick gist of how it works:

When: The giveaway is open to be entered from now until midnight, April 30.

How to Enter: Simply comment on this post with your name and email address, and you're in!

What Two Books? I will be giving away the following two books, to two randomly-selected entrants...

Ars Golgothica, my first book of poetry, released in 2012. The poems collected here speak to the varying shades of experience -- grief and suffering, love and joy -- through the lens of life in Christ. The poems transcend the expectations of the often-alienating genre, digging into the dirt and finding the Eden there, the hope to be found in ruin, and the significance of sorrow.

Slow Dance With Sasquatch by Jeremy Radin, an incredibly earthy collection of poems that I can't see any lover of literature having a hard time falling head-over-fur-cuffed-heels for. You can learn more about it, as well as read some samples, at the Write Bloody Publishing store.

And that's it! I'll be giving away one copy of each, to two people who comment on this post with their name and email. After the contest ends, I will enter all the entrants into a random number generator and contact the lucky recipients for their shipping info. No hassle, no cost -- just lovely collections of word-dainties and thought-entrees. It's surprisingly easy, and just as fun for me (maybe more so).

So, yeah...have a great month, enter if you're inclined, and I'll be back in a couple days for NAPOWRIMOOOOO.