Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent

Happy T-9 days 'til Christmas! I hope the season is treating you all well. Hopefully this is finding you on the peaceful side of the holiday spectrum (you know, as opposed to "Stuff-Crazy" or the dreaded status of "I Have 5 Credit Cards Someone Stop Me").

I intended to get more Christmas-themed writing done than I have, but there's still a week (and I'm not going to pretend I don't keep rocking the Christmas vibe through January), so we'll see what happens.

For now, have a poem I just finished today. I put a couple days of work into it, and I am really, really happy with how it wrapped up. I hope you all enjoy it, and may it be whatever God wants it to be to you.


Advent 

The first eyes to see God peel us from our pupa
found nothing special about the thing
sleeping in their food, a mere knot of cloth and steam.
Even as distant angels sang and fists stretched
two bundles of omen and birth, desultory lows
broke to comb his crown of curls for anything of worth.

A sheep drawled its cudded, compulsory bleats
across the cave like some semiannual due,
the murrain between its hooves moved less by the child
with his panacean kingdom
still a ghost on the clouds of his breath than by the reap
whose golden gather gave the babe a place to rest,

and the donkey thought him too small,
too cheeked with fig and down
to fit the image its ears had gleaned from angels long wont
to whisper its kind their secrets. Weighing him
against these anticipatory words, the donkey
turned back to face the unstarred sky, assuming it misheard.

But she, a year or two removed from the manger,
would understand all too well the stakes claimed
in the lowering of a star, in the child's too-pierceable flesh.
With heart a crumbling fruit and hands made cradle
and casket by a world that chews its young, she needs
no angel to tell her why the Christ was born and hung.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch Regarding Exodus' 'All White Cast'

I've long been bothered by the prevalence of British accents for non-British roles in film. It's always seemed a prime example of subconscious racism, to so subtly whitewash history. So, imagine how I felt on seeing promos for Exodus: Gods and Kings, another historical epic with an irresponsibly all-white cast? You won't have to, because Rupert Murdoch, whose company is distributing the film, took to Twitter to defend the movie's cast, in one swoop reemphasizing ingrained racism as well as inciting me to respond via a poem I tried very hard to keep from becoming a rant.


Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch Regarding Exodus' 'All White Cast'

Rupert, I imagine you were the only one surprised
by the tidings of your tweet.
A man in Noah's shadow ought to send his birds hopefully,
but let me enlighten that bush your ilk have switched
for burning cigars
and explain the plague your movie is courting.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
deems to blanch the tan from sand accustomed
to its own copper feet
for a story stolen out
of the bitumen-and-bulrush cradle it's known
since Mt. Sinai.

Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver…
The historically-inaccurate pallor
you prop against a backdrop of roles obscure enough
to keep brown is no fault of the actors themselves.
People behind similar desks
have been whitewashing deserts and temples

since first looking through a camera
and finding comfort in the way it made the world right,
replaced all those uncouth hues
with the supremacy of pearl
or the moon or a porcelain bowl set prettily on a table
too oak to be anything else.

Of course, there's no one more fit to defend Exodus
than you, with the Mosaic way you
part the world into two towering walls of black or white,
fabricate the idea of a black Egypt to justify
the solace entombed underneath
your overwhelmingly-Caucasian one.

But this is about more than skin.
This is a symptom of those postcolonial pipedreams
that force British tongues into
brown and Asian mouths,
rewriting history with the invisible fingers
still craving foreign shores.

If your "all white cast" draws its movie distaste,
see it as the fish refusing the hook.
There are too many filmmakers who shoot what's true
to settle for one who'd rather shoot what sells
when what sells is a privilege-petting lie
dressed in the aurum and kohl of scripture.

I take comfort in the dollars
this backlash augurs to be spent somewhere
other than Exodus: Gods and Kings,
because, Rupert, with all this said,
if this is what you make of scripture's people,
I shudder at what you might make of its God.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Trees Taught Me How to Be Thankful (a belated Thanksgiving poem)

As if I were going to let Thanksgiving pass without some vaguely-related poem about it. I'm deep in the arms of Christmas now, so before I begin cranking out whatever Christmas poetry my Muse inspires in me, have a poem that may or may not actually be about Thanksgiving so much as the unconditional thankfulness that I've found a desire for in my relationship with Christ. Or maybe it's just an excuse to use the line 'tendrils of blossom and knot.' The world may never know...


Trees Taught Me How to Be Thankful

Its fingers tipped with wind, November
plucks handfuls of autumn from its quarry,
leaves them to the ghosts of rain and tannin.

Elm rattles the bones made bare in its theft,
and there's no lauded vermilion
to clothe the maple's motherly scars, but…
these boughs. These tendrils of blossom and knot.

They snake their leafless lengths skyward,
welcome the sympathy surely read in things
that moan on their behalf and wet furrowed branches
rising despite the weight of their loss,

as if something evergreen ringed that deciduous skin,
these limbs that know no other posture in winter's
stricken throes than that which lifted Heaven
when thanks came easy as their leaves.

November's bitter fistfuls may be promises born
before trunk or bough, but what is that in light of spring?–
the impending sprout and bloom awaiting upraised arms.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Season's Greetings

The situation in Ferguson has already stood to reemphasize a lot of underlying ugliness that our society is addicted to claiming conquered and buried in the past. I, like so many others, was particularly stricken by the "Season's Greetings" Reuters photo, as it captured an almost unbelievable metaphor in real life: the proven truth that our shepherds, the ones empowered to protect us, are increasingly capable of instead becoming the wolves at our throats with little to no consequence for doing so. The juxtaposition of holiday warmth and authoritarian wrath is one I can't see myself forgetting any time soon.


Season's Greetings

Tell me she won't forever mingle
the memory of Christmas with teargas.
Tell me that this will dissipate as quickly
as the plumes of Ferguson-sulfur
bottled a useless proof in her nose.
Tell me the night has not spoiled the taste
of Thanksgivings to come with this rotten egg
made to incubate on the back of her tongue,
because here, at Florrisant and Paul,
there's no parsing smoke from the crimson-lit tinsel
strewn a suture over the street.
The season breathes its jingles
under a staccato of glass and teeth, a smolder
of blood too often bruised beneath the skin
to withstand another strike without bleeding,
and I wonder if the holiday will ever be peace to her.
If season's greetings will ever again unfurl itself
without this predatory snarl, this affront
of all its Nativitous star once illumined,
announcing a sleeping king to shepherds
who knew better than to eat their sheep.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Season of Giving

First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! I'm not naive enough to think everyone will actually be able to spend time with their loved ones today, but I hope, in some capacity, this day finds you in a spirit of peace and contemplative thankfulness. May we all reflect on the ways God has blessed us both invisibly and overtly this past year.

With that said, there is something I've felt God put on my heart recently. One thing I love to do is bless others, with gifts, with love, with words...whatever it may be. I admit to spending more time thinking about how to give than actually giving, but, for a month at least, that changes. I may not have much to give on a financial scale, but there is one thing I have felt my heart grasp onto, and I'm excited to do it. Here's the deal:


I self-published a book of poetry in 2012, called Ars Golgothica (and if this is the first time you're hearing that, welcome to my blog! You're lucky to have missed me in my grossly self-promotional stage.). I know the thing has already saturated my circle of family and friends more than a slice of bread in olive oil, but it's what I have. I bet a few fish and some bread probably seemed an awfully-insufficient dinner too, though.

So what I am doing is this: for the month of December, I'm going to be giving away copies of my poetry book.

This is not a contest. This is a free gift to anyone and for anyone. You tell me you want one and where to send it, and it's yours. If you would like it signed or made out to someone, I will gladly do so (and in my best pen!). Christmas always brings our Christ-borne generosity to the forefront. It's something we all should live in and operate from year-round, but Christmas is just the chiefest excuse to really let loose that monumental, Heaven-rendingly-glorious love. And I want to do just that with what I have. And what I have is my book.

So, you can comment here, or you can reach me on Facebook, or just email me at roquedog504 [@] gmail [.] com (remove the brackets, of course).

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a wonderful season. May it be a time for blessing and encouragement to you and yours. As John reminds, "we love because He first loved us."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Extent of My Thanks

Photo credit: Keira Bishop
 
The Extent of My Thanks
 
The table's belabored array
laced our thankfulness with raised flags.
Cinnamon and squash,
a panoply of wafting herbs
and crispened turkey skin
courting tides behind our teeth,
tongues whetted for that perfect brown
as if nothing squirmed behind its ebon apex of thanks…

as if soil never shattered 'neath conquistador prows,
wastes unspooled of cranberry-red roots
by brutes beautified on colonial quills.
As if tradition didn't hide profligates and genocide,
banquets in the place of lethiferous blankets.
So easily immured, these truths,
like spoons plunged into pillowy hillocks
as if my gratitude wasn't another one's grief.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sabbat Manifesto

I've become aware of the fact that when I drink, I write about the devil. I don't know if that's a coincidence, but here's another fall-fueled poem thanks to the still-gorgeous Oregonian autumn we're being treated to. Sometimes you just have to look at fall nature and think about 17th century witches. Oh, am I the only one who does that?


Sabbat Manifesto 

I am as the dawn unsleeved of its burning weight,
the trees' increase beneath my sheen and my slithered gait.
Whisper I through autumn's palms that insensate tongue
trained to taste the haughty oak upon its lowest rung.
Cursed to soil, blessed to breathe such a pungent tryst
as sighs betwixt this woody rot and dusk-transfigured mist,
dilates every englaimed cleft before the horns I ply
toward that singing murk where virtues buck the sham├Ęd sky…

Greater loved than grace, the haven 'tween my cloven hooves
in which these pilgrimesses shed their wool to marry wolves,
heave beneath a name the scriptured stricture in their flock
has taught taut lips to long to swathe as freer than the stock
brandished by their pious band. So, the ring of twining hands!
Each inviting hollow I ingrave like stone-commands,
I, lubricious linchpin in this Mass of flesh and spruce,
despite my firelit shadow, cast a sprawled and nearing noose.