Category: Poems

Rose Gold. A poem.

I have faith in the power of words.

They are tiny, and insignificant,
and when you use them so powerfully

to evoke the disaster of your life,
complete with sights and smells worthy

of a trigger warning,
and when you tell me

you do not have faith in the power of words,
I see a glass vase dropping to a concrete floor, shattering,
in a shadowed room.

I glimpse, for a moment, your lack of faith.

 

But then I see a man with shadowed face,

one who heard the shatter,
and without a broom or even even a dustpan

gets down on his hands and knees
wearing only a towel

picking up the pieces,
one

by
one.

The sun goes down,
and the glass lies dead.

Still, he keeps working,
working all night,

and I see blood flowing from his fingers,
dark and dripping

and still he picks up the pieces,
one

by
one.

I can barely keep my eyes open–
maybe I don’t

but suddenly a shout rouses me.
My eyes burst open

to the room filling with
rose gold light,

imparting rose-gold to the glass
stained with blood,

and his shout is a word,
so golden with love

that a blood-red rose blooms
in my heart, thorns and all:

“LIVE!”

I do not understand it,
but he has a new vase in his hand,

the same one,
but crackling with lightning.

And the man smiles,
his eyes filling with the joy

of making the universe
and calling it good.

I have faith in that Word,
that calls me rose-gold.

Therefore, though they made him bleed,
yours, and mine,
matter.

A letter to my friend, root beer.

O root beer, my old friend:

How I will enjoy spending time with you again,
this Easter Season.

You’ve crossed my mind, lately,
but to be honest I haven’t missed you much:

I knew you would be there,
still waiting, after my short walkabout with the Rabbi.

Still:

I hope I will appreciate you more,
after making a little space for

“humans do not live by food and drink alone,
but by every word coming from the mouth of God.”

I hope your sweetness
reminds me, just a little, of

“taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who trust in him.”

It will be good to spend time with you again.

Cheers and kisses,
Robbie

But I don’t feel anything…

1. I have a good friend,
a fiery and earthy poet and activist,

who wondered aloud among friends
if there was something wrong with him

because the Feast of the Resurrection
doesn’t move him as it does others.

…but I don’t feel anything…

He reads his Bible, and he prays,
and that’s it.

2. Sometimes I wonder if he is a stronger Christian than I,
more disciplined in the Way of Life,
because he does the stuff,
works for justice,
tells the truth

without the holy “heebie-jeebies” that someone like me craves,
and then wonders what’s wrong when they are absent.

I wonder if, as he says, there’s an element of “performance Christianity”
in the emotion I sometimes feel in this time of year:

The Word going down to the bottom
of very thin soil. What happens
under
the
pressure?

3. But mostly I just want to say,
to him and to anyone else who says

…but I don’t feel anything…

that’s OK.

It’s possible that only God knows
what it feels like
–in the depths of Godself–
for the universe to shift on its axis.

“In the brooding of the Spirit…”

From N.T Wright’s Easter Oratorio, a passage that never fails to move me about Holy Saturday. I remember a lecture in which he read the last stanza, and, as a punchline, added: “And on the eighth day, New Creation.” Ponder the mystery with me in these last moments before the sun sets on this holy Sabbath:

On the seventh day God rested
in the darkness of the tomb;
Having finished on the sixth day
all his work of joy and doom.

Now the Word had fallen silent,
and the water had run dry,
The bread had all been scattered,
and the light had left the sky.

The flock had lost its shepherd,
and the seed was sadly sown,
The courtiers had betrayed their king,
and nailed him to his throne.

O Sabbath rest by Calvary,
O calm of tomb below,
Where the grave-clothes and the spices
cradle him we do not know!

Rest you well, beloved Jesus,
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,
In the brooding of the Spirit,
in the darkness of the spring.

N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is

… (Holy Saturday)

I believe it was Karl Rahner, writing of Holy Saturday, who said:

Today is the day that “God is dead.”

The Eastern churches say:

On this holy day the creator rested from all His works.

As I ponder this paradox,
it seizes me:

If Jesus had not been willing to do this,

this Gentile boy might know nothing
about the character of God.

Not What We Expected (Palm Sunday)

From my book O Beautiful Dust, written Palm Sunday, 2013.

Triumphant Lord:
Today you came into Zion on a donkey—
your friends pimped out your ride because
they sensed in their bones
that you were the King,
come to liberate the people from oppression:
“Save now!” their—our— cry.

But why didn’t you
cross swords with the Romans, Jesus?
People started to fear.
This wasn’t what we expected of you, Jesus!

The progressives didn’t like you—
and they still don’t.
Those Pharisees with their oral tradition
and bodily resurrection
and angels and demons, thus:
“What do you mean, we’re abusing the Torah?
What do you mean, we don’t need the Temple?”

The conservatives didn’t like you—
and they still don’t.
Those Saducees with their Temple taxes
and Biblical literalism
and political posturing?
“What do you mean, we’re fleecing the poor?
What is this nonsense: a ‘non-violent’ Kingdom?”

And we—pulled back and forth,
harassed like sheep without a shepherd—will cry,
only a few days from now,
agreeing with the agendas of the powers-that-be:
“Crucify Him! Crucify!”

O Triumphant Lord,
going to a cross-throne
wearing thorns-as-crown:
You are not what I—what we—expected…

Selah.

Vulnerability.

For Generous Space Toronto.

Last night, I saw vulnerability.

Not the safe, easy, almost romantic kind–
the kind that new lovers try,
as a gentle test.

Not that.

No–the kind that needs trigger warnings,
and makes me cringe because it’s brave
and stupid

and socially inappropriate.
The kind that can barely find a plot,
but paints pictures so vivid

that suddenly,
I have an inkling of why the Psalmist would write:
“And darkness is my only friend.”

The kind I would need
walking into a room with natural light streaming in,
but only because there are beautiful and sharp
pieces
of stained glass
all over the floor.

Then, I saw a second kind of vulnerability:
a community, a people,
holding space enough to not lose
any of those
sharp
and beautiful
pieces.

I don’t know if there were any cuts.
But I do know that we held that space,
even if the glass hurt,

because we know
deep in our bones,
singing in the marrow:

All shall be well,
and all shall be well,

and all manner of thing
shall be well,
in our Lord Jesus Christ,
and by our Lord Jesus Christ.

And I remember:
Jesus’ vulnerability–
triggering and stupid and socially inappropriate–
saves the universe.

Selah.