When Lucifer dropped down from Heaven
And yanked a third of it, streaming, behind him,
Babies throughout time startled in their mother’s wombs:
A sudden jolt of a kick to interrupt the outer goings-on.
I’m told this was only a smudged exclamation point
In the unfolding history of Everything That Ever Was:
Emphatic, but blurry.
My Mama once told me that the Devil turns up his ear when I pray,
So, cracking my eyes open just the slightest
(In case things in my room started shaking and
Falling apart through the middle, books leaping off of shelves)
I’d sometimes address him as an aside:
“Hey. Why you so troublesome. Is jealousy worth all your tired anger?
Satan. Do you ever put down your dukes?”
I always did like to poke a bear, and I always dug after answers.
The way I was raised the Devil was the biggest trouble
But there were no answers that weren’t worth troubling even
Ol’ Beelzebub, because ignorance is worse (by far!) than death.
So: If I’ve not avoided challenging The Old Man himself,
Why on Earth would I not hazard to
Also question the way the Church behaves?
My father has spent most of his adult life being a success.
Cancer is beating the shit out of him.
I feel terrible for him.
Lots of people might ask me,
“How could you spend and decade-and-a-half without someone
Who was supposed to love you, to be there for you
No Matter What
and then love him and tend him and fret in your heart over his pain
when he shows back up only to
promptly get sick?”
(It is indeed a long-winded and big-ass question)
My answer to them what would ask this is,
“Man. I don’t even know.
I do not know
I’ve come to realize that
I do not care
All I know is that this is in my heart, this thing,
a knowledge that says, concrete but sorta kind,
This is what You Are Supposed To Do.
Not just that, I guess.
There’s some sort of biological imperative
thing at play that won’t let me peel off
Or turn away
Or fall down and holler quits.
I guess I’m finding out, too
This is maybe just who I am.”
“Thank God, because seriously:
If you’d have asked me as early as ten months ago
to predict an outcome, well….
I’d have never put money on myself.”
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
(you might want to hold your breath a little for this one, y’all)
more missin’ than you’re worth, but I still do anyhow
Here I am in all this,
Last meal long gone and
Neck punching up a fierce crick,
Five or five-hundred miles
Past where you said the train would stop.
(I quit counting miles; I just listened
for the Johnny Cash in the hitch-gather of the wheels)
It’s not that you lied,
Or didn’t plan right.
It’s just that you underestimated my capacity
For saving you a seat.
Her stories read loud and
She spends punctuation like it’s going out of style.
His voice is tinny
(advances in telephonic technology be damned), oh
How in the world is she
Supposed to hear that over her yammering heart?
She has read him,
She has read to him,
She believes every word he says.
He doesn’t know the truth;
He never has,
So how could he possibly be lying?
She bore the brunt of his profound
Still she wants to level with him,
She wants to explain
(all the beseeching long ago done).
Her inability to dismiss key factors
–hey, ignorance notwithstanding, and
dignity still of some small, grave importance–
Causes them to fall from her swollen, untired mouth,
These words, this towline between them:
“You weren’t there when the blood poured out of me and I became someone else.
“You weren’t there at all.”
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
No, I’m not asking much of you / Just sing, little darling, sing with me / So much I know, that things just don’t grow / If you don’t bless them with your patience
A big bowlful of cleaning rags
–On a Saturday afternoon–
Caught me singing and daydreaming about
Who we once were:
I watched you smile and take nothing for granted.
You watched me birth our son.
Confidences were sowed, blessed to root.
There was growing up to be done,
There was striving to be done,
There was a level peace to be had.
God the Holy Spirited Baby Jesus
Was in all of that somewhere, burbling,
Shaking the rafters with angels stomping.
Ohhh, the banjo twanging! and great
Streams of electric guitaring! and the
Low-moan wail of the kudzu souls gone on.
A four-cornered jubilee of just
endless indoor campout.
You, and me, and three, and that’s what.
That’s every bit of what.
You traveled down the hall, trailing words behind you
And I hesitated, lost in the picture of me
Flinging a heavy volume in the direction of your head.
It was a dictionary:
I wanted to give the words back, but
With heavily-compounded interest.