Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Night

Now I come to the writing place.
My night soaked in
an impromptu storm of
Befriending my insomnia
and dripping with imagination.

No pen scratching in this place
but the clicking of letters.
and inviting me to touch out
words grumbling around in my head.

I invite eyes to follow
rivulets of lines
from the skies of my sleeplessness.
Come, follow my dreams interrupted.

The making of pictures
out of words and they out of letters.
Symbols from lost
darkened with thousands of histories
fashing forward by some sort of magic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I eased my aching joints onto a sort of park bench between the sliding doors and the registers at Lowes while Dottie paid for our latest treasure trove of stuff to fix up the house. The last of my bones where muttering their complaints when two employees came in the doors talking business. I hadn’t yet gotten into my usual dissociative state when I caught a piece of the conversation.

The short, plump, white girl said to the black one with the clipboard, “We partitioned them for the blump-blumps but it looks like we ain’t gonna get ‘em.”

The black girl must have looked as puzzled as I felt because then the white girl explained. “Well Alex got runned over and that customer got runned over and we thought if we partitioned for blump-blumps, it might slow ‘em down a little. There was a bit of silence and she studied the black girl’s face and followed up with, “I recon we ain’t gonna get ‘em ‘cause they came down here and surveyed and I ain’t seen no blump-blumps yet.”


“You know, Blump-Blumps. Cars go blump-blump over ‘em.

One of my notorious laughs got started in my feet, surged up my thighs through my lungs and splashed all over the Lowes big box store and both the women caught it as it rushed by them into the rafters. Shorty said, “Oh, you know, we petitioned the main office for speed bumps.”

That petitioned me for a fresh roll of laughter and the black girl turned looking at me with the most amused look on her face when I delivered. “I couldn’t figure out what kind of language that was," she said.

Dottie rolled the shopping cart to the doors and I bounced up and said, “Neither could I.”

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Gold Crowned Jesus

Most folk believe that the Beatitudes defines Christians. In terms of the historical church, it does not. It points to the outsiders, the miserable and helpless common people. We have to keep in mind what the common people looked like in Jesus day. They were absolutely stuck in the filth of an every day existence from which they were not permitted to rise. In our nation and in our culture, the poor are not only permitted but in at least some cases, they are encouraged to rise to the very top where they can be very powerful. Our president is a case in point.

We are, as a people, not poor, not humble and certainly not meek. We are more often as Americans and specifically as American Christians, arrogant, manipulating and if we are dirty, our dirtyness lies in the fact that in comparison to much of the world, we are filthy rich. These are hard words and difficult to hear but if you have the ears to hear and the eyes to see, read the follow excerpt from Asian Faces of Jesus Edited by R.S. Sugertharharjah. The passage comes from Chapter 10, “Jesus and People (Minjung) by Byung Mu Ahn and is a summary of a play written by Chi Ha Kim, a Korean poet.

“The scene plays in front of a Catholic church, where a statue of Jesus made of cement is to be found. On his head he is wearing a golden crown. Below the statue there are beggars lying around. The time is early morning on a cold Winter’s day.

As time passes, first a potbellied priest and then a fat man, looking like the boss of a company, walk by. The beggars ask for alms again and again but are refused with contempt and scorn. Eventually a policeman is seen on the scene. Far from wanting to help them he immediately tries to drive them out of the place and demands a fine from them in return for his connivance.

After all of them are gone, one of the beggars starts to lament: ‘I have neither home, no grave to rest fro all the exhaustion . I am abandoned in an endless cold, in a bottomless darkness. I cannot endure it any longer, this miserable time… it is unbearable, really unbearable. But where shall I go, where can I leave for, where, where? As he so laments to himself in despair, his eyes filled with teas, meet the cement statue of Jesus. For a moment a vague expectation flickers in his mind. Yet pulling himself together he – with a critical glance at the statue – grumbles in his mind: ‘This Jesus might well be a savior to those who have enough to eat, who have a home and a family. But what has he to do with a beggar like me?’ And then he says in a loud voice: ‘Hey! How on earth can Jesus speak without a mouth? Can a lump of cement speak? Even though he were alive, he couldn’t open his cemented mouth. So what kind of relationship could there be with that lump of cement and me? – Hey, listen! They choose cement or concrete or bronze or gold to have a statue of Jesus made, so solid as to last for a 1000 or 10000 years.’

Crying out loudly the beggar, overwhelmed with grief, begins to weep. Right at that moment he feels something wet, like small drops of rain falling on his head. Is it raining? No! – When he looks up he finds the cement Jesus weeping and dropping tears. The tears are falling right on him. ‘How strange a thing! Really, there art tears dropping down from his eyes. I could never have imagined a thing like this. Could it be that this cement is made of some strange material?’

He watches Jesus intently, and only then does he realize that Jesus is wearing a golden crown. He begins to touch and feel the crown with his hands. Having found that it is real gold, the idea crosses his mind that if he sold the crown, he would have enough to eat and something to live on. Following an irresistible impulse he grasps the crown and takes it off.

At this very moment he hears a voice: “Take it, please! For too long a time I have been imprisoned in this cement. Feeling choked in this dark and lonely prison of cement. I wish to talk with poor people like you share your suffering . How eagerly I’ve been waiting for this day to come – the day of my liberation when I could once again flare up like a candle and bring light to your misery. Eventually you have come and made me open my mouth. It is you who saved me.’ These are the words spoken by the gold crowned Jesus.

‘Who put Jesus in prison?’ the startled and frightened beggar asks. ‘Who were they?’ The Jesus made of cement answers: ‘ People like the Pharisees did it, because they wanted separate him from the poor in order possess him exclusively. ‘ Then the beggar asks: ‘Lord, what is it that has to be done for you to be released, for you to live again and stay with us?’ Jesus answers: “ It is impossible to do so by my own strength. If people like you, that means the poor, the miserable, the persecuted, but kind-hearted people are not going to liberate me. I will never become free again. Only kindhearted people will be able to do it. You opened my mouth! Right at that moment when you took the crown off my head, my mouth opened. It is you who liberated me! Now come to me, come very close! Like you made me open my mouth, you may now make my body become free. Remove the cement from my body. And remove the golden crown too. For my head, a crown of thorns will just be enough. I do not need gold. You need it much more. Take the gold and share it with your friends.’ But at that very moment the pot bellied priest, the fat boss of the company and the policemen reappear on the scene, Immediately they snatch the crown from the beggar’s hands and put back on the head of the Jesus statue. The beggar is arrested by the policemen and charged with larceny, taken to the police station. And the Jesus, made of cement, returns to his former state – a blank, expressionless statue, dumb, nothing more than a lump of cement.

Perhaps Christianity in general has become so ineffective because we have petrified Jesus with our worship of authority, entertainment and plush structures full of glittering technology. Perhaps we need to look for the poor, the miserable, and the outsiders to take the crown off our cement Jesus.