Falling

Today I saw you,
my own angel,
whose love was the light which
brightened my own darkness,
an enlightenment of
heart and mind, a
bringer of peace

falling again into that place
among the heartless wolves.
You were crying and I
am still powerless to help—

I—

have no rescue to offer;
only the words of a
would-be prophet railing
against the dark and
kicking and screaming
about unfairness–about
ignorant people with power,
whose only concern,
self-preservation, leaves them
without conscience.

And you at their mercy.

In between the nightmares
of my own wolves, I
dream about rescuing you
but I do not have the money,
power, or position.

All I can do is fall with you.
And I am
falling.

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The MAGA Christian meets God

The MAGA Christian stood before God, having strode to the throne proudly wearing that red hat…a sense of foreboding growing as he walked by the rows of dirty brown children staring at him, holding the hands of their mothers and fathers.  Something told him it’s a good idea to take off your hat when you meet someone important for the first time.

God said, “And you are?”

The MAGA Christian replied, “Well, I’m a Christian.  I want to come in.”

“Why would you want to come into my Kingdom?” God asked.

“I want to go to heaven.” said the MAGA Christian. “I’ve always gone to a church and I gave at offering time.  I believed in that book and I stood for family values.”

“Did you stand for their families?” asked God, as he pointed to the brown people behind the MAGA Christian.  “You said you believed in my book.  Did you read it?”

“Of course I did.”

“Then why, having read my words, ‘Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for me’ did you shout and chant that they should be turned away? Why, when they were running for their lives?  Why, when they were hungry and thirsty and naked and imprisoned did you shout about walls?”

“But God…they didn’t come legally.”

“Define ‘legally.’”

The MAGA Christian replied, “They didn’t obey the law.”

“Which law?” asked God.  “The one which says they could seek asylum at your border?”

“Well…”.

“Or, are you referring to your process by which they could apply for a paper from a ruler or magistrate…that is, if they had unlimited time and money to wait and pay off their corrupt governments which were trying to keep them there?  Has it not occurred to you that your own ‘greatness’ contributed to the very corruption they were seeking to escape?”

“But they were illegal!” said the MAGA Christian.

Illegal.” God repeated.  “According to whose laws?  Yours?  You created those laws, not me.  If they are illegal, they are so because that is what you named them, not me.  My children whom I love were running from war and famine.  They were fleeing oppression and all manner of horrors. And you screamed to turn them away because they had a name which you yourself gave them.”

The MAGA Christian’s hat started to burn in his hands.  “But, aren’t all of the laws of the land your laws?”

“You said you read my book?”

“But we were afraid they were bringing terrorists.” said MAGA.

“You were afraid.” said God.  “Afraid of what they were running from.  So you wanted to turn them away.  You stole their children from them and sent them away.  Did I not tell you that following me meant putting away your fear and loving and serving your neighbors?”

“But, these weren’t my neighbors.”

“Why not?”

“Because they were…illegal.

“I see.” said God.  “And this is how you still feel?”

“Well…we were making a nation great again.  We are no one’s servants.”

“And now, you want to enter my Kingdom where the greatest is the servant.”

“Well, it’s better than the alternative.”

“I see,” said God, suddenly speaking with a Hispanic accent.  “So, you’re running from something.  And you are?”

“I’m a Christian.”

“Hmm.  I generally know my people.  But, I’m afraid I don’t recognize you.  Maybe you should have tried coming legally.

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I’m not going to eat what you give me

though you be
displeased
or offended

if it smells
or makes me gag
I won’t eat it

you may
argue its merits or
expound the virtue of its ingredients
or tell me that it’s good for me

you may apply guilt
or condescend

you may insist until
you slam the silverware
and rattle the plates
and terrify the others

you may take away
all other food
to starve me into submission

you may beat me sore
for eating something else

but I will sit
like a stone
while you threaten and curse
and shame
and shame
and shame me

because it is
my mouth
and it is
my stomach
and God himself
made me in charge of
what goes into it
not you

and when my will
so exasperates and vexes you that
you hit and choke me
you hold me down
and squeeze my jaws open
with your giant hands
and you
shove
that now cold food in my mouth
I will spit it back in your face
until you have made me
black and blue
and
when you force my jaws to move
and hold my mouth shut
and pinch my nose until
I swallow it and you finally
feel that you have won

I will gag and
I will vomit
until you are covered
with my bile
and you will know
that I am not yours

I have always known that you feel completely justified
I have heard you say that you were acting in my best interest
but your rage belied you
you did not love me
you did not care that I wanted to eat
but I just couldn’t
you never once listened
to why

you just hated me

in the end I suppose I might thank you, though

your cruelty was the greatest teacher in my life
I would never have guessed how many people
would want me to take into
my mind, my heart, my soul
what they gave me
without resistance

four decades later
I am not afraid

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I am a pallet

I am a pallet;
a collection of oaken slats, each
born in beauty and silence
raised and nurtured by
cool streams and
rooted in the dark earth,
grown into a home for the
skitterers and flyers
whose place was my branches,
making the ground beneath
a shady spot for the moss
and the brush.
A provider of peace and comfort.

Offering the resistance of only
density and gravity against
the saw and axe, I am
cut down and sliced
for the strength of my flesh,
hastily assembled as an
empty box enslaved
by twisted iron nails;
my once living burl now
drying into rough,
brittle bones, a
square skeleton.

Once divinely ordained
as a caretaker and provider
of peace and comfort,
I am relegated to a vehicle
for plastic junk. Stacked
and transported, sitting in
hot trucks, waiting to be
unloaded, thrown on a pile
and set in the hot sun,
cold rain, or freezing snow
until more plastic junk
might make me useful again.
I have found my place in
dark, dusty, forgotten corners,
set down in piles of muck
and rat shit, skidded on
rough concrete, broken by
tired workers, themselves
overburdened into carelessness
by their own slavery.

I am
used up and broken,
filthy and stained,
gnarled, cracked, and
cheaply repaired until,
an eyesore,
my iron jailers now rusty and
exposed, I am
destined for the fire.

Waiting outside, I am
noticed by one who can
see beneath the scars and dirt
who sees value in what I once was
and who knows I have my story.
Picked up and taken home,
brushed off and pried apart,
my parched slats creak and
groan against the pry bar,
some giving way as the cruel
nails struggle to keep their grip
in me.

He cuts and sands these
boards, cleaning off the years of
broken splinters and
the filth which has been
ground into these grains,
revealing patterns of color and
beauty which had once lived
inside of me.

I am remade into something
new, something beautiful and useful:
a chair, a table, a sign proclaiming
something precious and fun.
A birdhouse or feeder, or
a bed for a beloved friend.
I am, once a purveyor of junk,
then junk itself,
now, a thing to be cherished,
a provider of peace and comfort.

I am a pallet:
Reclaimed. Repurposed. Restored. Reborn.

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Faces

A thousand a day
Or more
I walk by
A warm smile
A distant gaze
Polite hello
Vexed evasion
Sometimes…
Contact
A momentary
Keyhole
Revelation
A story
Underneath

How often I wonder
Whether a
Passing face
Calmly hides
A soul scream:
Confusion
Loss
Rejection
Loneliness
Desperation

Seeing the crowds
He had compassion on them
Because they were harassed and helpless
Like sheep without a shepherd

“There just aren’t enough workers.
Pray for more.”

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Hummingbird

I don’t know much about hummingbirds,
what or whether they think as
they zip about in their incessant frenzy.

I don’t know what makes them stop and
stare at us—fragile feet tucked lightly
under their tiny hovering bodies, no

bigger than my smallest finger—
sitting on our porch in the evening.
Gingerly they dip their long beaks

Into the plastic flowers of the
feeder, sipping freely of the sugar and water
left their by their lumbering giant neighbors

before darting away into the bushes.
It just seems to me that they relish
their smallness—that they inhabit

their fragility with an inexorable
energy.  I know that their buzzing
fills my heart with joy and that

I cannot help my laughter when they
chase each other around the yard,
careening through the branches

like a green and red blur.  This is
their world, I think.  And as much as I
would like to see myself as their

benefactor, as the caretaker my story tells
me I should be, I realize that the world
my kind has created is simply not conducive

to their frailty—that the harshness of our concrete,
electric world of profit and loss does violence
to the beauty of their fragile lightness.

Today, I found a small hummingbird dead on the
hard sidewalk, no doubt having flown headlong into the
plexiglas door her crumpled body lay next to.

The flowery bushes nearby seemed to droop
in my imagination as if mourning a life stolen, as if
grieving that she would no longer sip their nectar.

And, for a moment, I was reminded of the
words of the Lord that not one sparrow will fall
to the ground that God does not care for.

And I remember his next words, “Don’t worry—
you are worth more than many sparrows.”  I
wonder whether he smiled as he said it

because I don’t feel worth many hummingbirds at all.
My own people treat their own with no more
care than the sidewalk had for this bird.

And I think that, between the world my
people have created and the one nurtured
by a one and a half inch hummingbird

roosting over her minuscule eggs
high up in the trees—
I like hers better than ours.

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Chipmunks

Skittering scattering
Minuscule clattering
Tiny feet hurriedly dash
From places of cover
To places of shelter
In-between finding
Nourishment; trouble
All on the double

Pittering pattering
Tranquility shattering
Comically squeaking their
Miniature survivalist drama
Leaving the traces of
Their incessant activity
For me to spray away
Which I do every day

Nervously shaking sheaves
Of flowers and hasta leaves
Brown backs striped
Jet black and white
Perk their tails in
Endless signals of
Diminutive distress
Perpetual unrest.

Deceptively they charm
With their movements of alarm
Avoiding in their behemoth world
Predators which fly, slither, and creep
Carefully, they live their
Petite adventure
Reminding me as they do
That I am quite small, too.

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