A Haibun to God

[A haibun is a form that mixes prose and poetry, starting with prose and ending with a haiku that is a related extension, but not repetition, of the prose. The “official” challenge for today was to write a haibun “that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live” but that is not what happened for me, although maybe, in a sense, it did.]

She who writes, writes, and I read, names of God in long lists (even before adding the feminist sensibilities) like incipient poetry, on and on, from religions and nations, tribes and cultures: Creator, Father, Friend of the World, Mighty One, Searcher of Hearts, Lord of Consolations, Beloved, the One Who Dwells in Hidden Places, the Heart of Israel, the One Who Understands, the One Who Spoke, Justice of the World, Rock of the World, the Holy One, Peace of the World, Strong One, Merciful One, Fashioner, Designer, Carver, Molder, Hewer, Architect of the World, Alone the Great One, the Powerful One, Shining One, the One Who Sees All, Greatest of Friends, Protector of the Poor, Guardian of Orphans, Watcher of Everything, Savior of All, the One Who Loves, the One Who Does Not Die, Highest of the Highest and the Unknown. And then, and then, she rebirths the feminine: Great Mother, the One Who Gives Birth, Queen of Heaven, Mother Bird, Mother Hen, Mother Bear, Wisdom, Sophia, Sky Woman, Spirit Creatrix, Goddess.
I dream of God who dreams me
Then Now Forevermore
Silence calls my dream God forth


O

Magdala

They tell of my seven demons
But not of the men who put them there
From before my moon-bleeds started

They say I followed him
Followed? He called me beloved
As we walked side by side

They claim I stood at a distance as he died
But they were not there and did not see
Our eyes close the soldiered distance

They know I hurried to his tomb with first light
But the spices I carried were not for him alone
Never should either of us be alone again

After that I disappear from their telling
My love they resurrected
But me they left, unbelieved, in the empty tomb

I am their Jonah
Jetsam, willingly sacrificed
To their terrible need

Swallowed by their behemoth pride
I ride secretly in the belly of their power
Anointing the others as they arrive

Scared, shivering wretches, women all
Who lack the upthrusted harpoon
That draws the blood and water from his dead body

But blood soaked rooms do not scare us
In their secret darkness
We create life

Our winding grave sheets
Are but placenta
Feeding hope

One day, unconquered, unburied
We will spew forth
To bless, to heal, to consecrate

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Psalm 146

Let me praise God
With every breath
As long as I live
Let me praise God all my life long
I want wisdom not more knowledge
I want sure help not false hope
I want healing not bandaids
All my knowledge, all my schemes
All my best efforts
Will die with me
My happiness, my help, my hope
Must be God
Immortal, almighty
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Lady Wisdom
Faithful to me, She lifts my spirit
Loving me, She feeds my hope
God frees me
God’s light banishes my darkness
God’s steadfast love makes me whole
She comforts me, protects me
She, only She, destroys my enemies, those terrible Ds
Let God reign in my heart forever
My God for all my life long
Praise God! Amen.

Ode to Alliteration

[Rebecca’s challenge today was to write a poem to something or someone. So I spent the day talking to rocks and trees, my car and my computer, my mind and my estranged daughter (none of which is unusual for me). But in the end inspiration failed and I opted for silliness, based on my tendency to over use alliteration.]

Alliteration, all I ask of you is an agreeable
beginning before becoming burdensome
can you convey my cleverness or
do I detect some duplicity
even as I evoke your energy
favoring form over focus
giving me garrulous grandiosity with
heaps of holesome humor
I intend no insight nor inherent interest
just juggling juicy words that
kindle kaleidoscope keyboarding
lines lingering long in
minds made messy by meaningless
noisy notes of nothing
only once off on this now onerous
path I persevere with peevish perverseness
Questioning my quietly queasy
Recently regretted
Sanity
too tedious too tender too
unconsciously unarmed
verily, verily, variously viewed
while whatever wellspring of wished for
x-poetry as extreme x-sport
yelds only yearnings for
zizzling, sizzling zeniths.

Psalm 146 – Take 2

Alleluia! Praise God, o my soul
I will praise the Almighty all my life
I will sing to my God as long as I live
I will put no trust in perishable power
In plans that go nowhere
In schemes that offer no salvation
But I will count myself blessed
To rely only on my God
The Almighty God of Jacob, Leah and Rachel
Great God
Creator of all
Heaven, earth and sea
My heart, soul, mind and body
Guardian always of my truth
Lifting me from my oppression
Feeding my hunger for righteousness
Unbinding my spirit
Lighting my darkness
Straightening my crooked thinking
With steadfast love
Nourishing my weak yearnings for peace
Supporting my poor efforts at peace
So that God reigns forever
In my heart, my soul, my mind, my life
Through troubles and despite my doubts
As long as I live, my God reigns. Amen.

A Morning Rant

[Rebecca’s writing prompt for today was to use something from social media as inspiration. In the poem you will read a line about America’s summary of Gaudate et Exsultate. America is the national Jesuit magazine; Gaudate et Exsultate is the title of a new advisory for Catholics that Pope Francis just released. The title is in Latin and means Rejoice and Be Happy.]

Not yet ready to get serious about my day
(Which definitely includes
Snow
In April
In Virginia
And may include
My so-called husband and I
Going to the courthouse
Showing acceptable ID
Paying $30
And getting a marriage license)
But not yet

I am retired
My kids are grown
The immediate demands on my time are few
So Facebook first
Always good for pretending to do something
And today I can pretend even more deeply
Thanks to Rebecca and her prompt

I happily read through the weird, wonderful and inevitably political
Posts of friends
Check out my favorite Catholic women’s site
Share the latest endorsements
For my so-called (soon to be real) step-daughter’s
Latest book (which is in a race with her baby to be born)
Email America’s summary of five points from Gaudate et Exsultate
To two friends

And so I virtually stroll along
If not exactly rejoicing and feeling glad
At least enjoying and feeling a little smug
Doing my pretend work

So it is really not nice of the FB god
To plant that big ugly root that trips me up
And sends me sprawling
Shattering my complacency
That suggested post
That appears too frequently
Asking me,
“How likely are you to run out of money during retirement?”

Martha

What do you know of me?
As if I even have to ask
(I wish I had been named Mary
All of the good stories are told about Marys)

Let me tell you what you know of me
You know that I was worried and distracted.
You know that I complained – complained to HIM
That my sister (who is, of course, named Mary)
Wasn’t doing woman’s work.
You know that he rebuked me
“Martha, Martha…there is need of only one thing.”
You think that all he ever said to me was
That Mary had chosen better?
(Well of course she had
She had chosen to act like a man
Who can sit at the feet of a rabbi
And think and learn and question.
I guess I should have acted like a man
Sat at his feet and waited –
Waited for him to bless more loaves and fishes
Turn more water into wine
And, while he was at it, clean up everything.)

Oh, sweet Jesus, I do not want this bitterness,
Help thou my bitterness.

Do you remember that I went to meet him
In the dark time after Lazarus died, before he lived again?
I went because I trusted in his love
I believed in his power
I knew who and what he is
Do you remember that?
Do you remember that I was the one
Me
Who went back and got Mary,
Who wouldn’t leave off crying
Told her that she should go to him
That he wanted to see her
Or do you only remember that he rebuked me
Again
Just because I got scared
(I was always a worrier, always the practical one)
Scared of what we would see – and smell
When that stone was rolled away.

(I wish I had been named Mary.
Maybe then I wouldn’t have been the practical one.)

Maybe then I wouldn’t have been the one
Who waited on them at dinner
Made sure everyone had enough to eat.
I thought that was the right, the loving thing to do;
I thought that was what I, a woman, could do for him.
I served them all, all those he loved and trusted
And that is all they tell of me, “Martha served.”
But of Mary they tell how she anointed his feet with pure nard
(They don’t mention that she purchased it with my household money)
And how she dried his feet with her hair
(Which I, of course, later had to help her wash)

I do love her, Lord, help thou my unlove.

I am who I am
I am as I was made to be
Mostly I enjoy serving others
Always I love him
I just don’t like the way
The men choose to remember me
As a woman they can despise
For being like most women.

[Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-45 and 12:1-8]

Oliguards

Imagine a partially deaf
93 year old
Who watches CNN
Obsessively

Imagine her first language
Was not a language at all
But a mix of dialects
Her mother’s
Cajun French
And her father’s
New Orleans French

Imagine she often
Gives Mrs. Malaprop
A run for her money
Or her Monet, perhaps
Or her honey
Depending on the background noise

(When she drove, she sped up by pressing
On the exhilarator
When she does dishes, she washes them
In the zinc
When she writes an email she uses
Google air mail)

Imagine, in short, my mother

See her charge
(As much as a slow, bent old woman can charge
And that, it turns out, is quite a lot)
Into the kitchen as I wash dishes
(At the zinc, of course)
Charge up behind me and demand
“What is an oliguard?”

Hear me, retired professor,
Too much in love with knowledge
Talking at her about oligarchy
About oligarchs and fashionable words
About formal and common usage

Imagine her interrupting (finally)

Imagine her
Old and bemused, sometimes confused
But still able
In her way to crack
That whip smart

Imagine her saying
“So an oliguard is a very wealthy person
Who uses his wealth to guard
Politicians who guard his money.”

Imagine now
Forevermore
Oliguards

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