THE OLD COVENANT

What is meant by a covenant with God?
The rainbow tails of heifers on a hill, baby rabbits pulsing under a thin silver veil of mother fur.

What is the Old Covenant?
A girl selling wildflowers at Farmer’s Market who left in tears because she didn’t know she had to call ahead.

What did God promise?
That there will always be music.

What response did God require from the chosen people?
That they see the Earth like a cat does, slice between themselves and the fog.

Where is this Old Covenant to be found?
On the seashore–ocean’s midden—or Earth’s—where hooves of white horse waves come pounding.

Where in the Old Covenant  is God’s will for us shown most clearly?
In powerlines, roadsounds, devouring mansions.  Haybales against Snake Mountain, Mount Abraham unobstructed, wild geese in the windy sky.

~from the Dadaist Catechism

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GOD THE FATHER

What do we learn about God as creator from the revelation to Israel?
That someone will finally comprehend what the Dark Energy does and come up with a plan to thwart it.

What does this mean?
It’s means God is like a shipwrecked sailor, washed ashore on a green island where a lady found him and warmed him between her thighs.

What does this mean about our place in the universe?
It means we’re like three women fishing:  an old grandmother, a mom in green shorts, a buxom young redhead who lost her float.

What does this mean about human life?
It means that it’s like the undersides of boats at a marina—boats put up for winter, cracked keels, chipped paint, crud, flies and spiders in the sails.  Chained and padlocked ladders, stolen oars.

How was this revelation handed down to us?
Through a branch of balsam caught like a fishbone in a lilac bush.  Babies dressed like Christmas dolls.  Mushrooms like seashells.

~from the Dadaist Catechism

WHAT I REALLY WANT



is to be the Queen.
Since I first saw Elizabeth:
solemn, beautiful, with that crown,
the robe, the golden orb.
When I am queen,
I’ll wear them always, all day long.

The crown is heavy, my mother explained.
It won’t be for me.
And you’re not a princess, my mother explained.
Oh, but I’ll marry the prince!

And when Diana did, I felt  betrayed,
though I was grown and settled
with a little house, a family, a little job all my own,
and though my grown-up self could never fancy Charles.

Fifty years later I saw my purloined things–
the orb bigger than I’d remembered, robe more magnificent.
The crown was exactly right–
and the scepter, the emerald in the sword–
A conveyor belt moved me along through that ancient room
as if I were merely a breathless tourist;
I could not touch those things
that still in my three year old soul
I believe should have come to me.

It was not the power–never that–
but the trappings:
palaces and Cinderella’s coach
to ride in whenever I said the word,
the golden throne,
hangings and dresses of velvet and silk,
all that splendor about my head.

They told me wishing was silly–
what does a child know?–
but they were always wrong.
That robe, the orb,
substantiate my deepest desire:
my jewels, my aboriginal crown.

~another one for the Royal Wedding~

WHY THE PRINCE’S MOTHER WAS RELIEVED

~in honor of the royal wedding, sort of~

He didn’t succumb
to Sleeping Beauty,
that languisher awaiting awakening.
Or to Cinderella–
self-righteousness waiting to happen–
but of course, since it was his business,
she didn’t tell him that.

She did tell him
that he would likely not
enjoy the kind of mother-in-law
who’d imprison her daughter in a rock
or sell her for a salad.

When he left on his quest,
like all good mothers,
she held her breath.
For years.

She worried
about trees grown from goat guts,
lurking dragons, glass mountains;
she had nightmares
about the secret names of dwarves
and stupid princesses with sensitive skin.

But he returned with a woman
who had slipped in between the pages,
who could read between the lines.
For a dowry she brought big feet and inky fingers,
songs about birds, stories about rabbits,
a laugh that could shatter stone.


HUMAN NATURE: from the Dadaist Catechism

What are we by nature?
Mountains, stars, hands—nothing but the little strings that hold it all together.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
Magpie nests of cheap sparkling spangles, sequins, paste, lamé, rhinestones, glass marbles glinting in scintillating light.

Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?
We are a man waiting to be shot standing on the edge of a shallow grave, removing his shoes, arranging them toe-to-toe, rolling his socks neatly and tucking them inside.

Why do we not use our freedom as we should?
We are barred owls, fluffy and innocent in the daytime, like stuffed toys drowsing, but at night silent terrors, killing whatever small and twittering creatures we can find.

What help is there for us?
Little brown birds guarding their nests in the undergrowth.  Cows scratching on a rock at dawn.

How did God first help us?
By propellers, fore and aft, and an inclined plane shuttled to and fro by the centrifugal force of a doodad.

(The last response, concerning propellers–which should have the accent on the first syllable–is a little riff my Irish grandfather used to say when asked by one of his children, “What does it do, Dad?”)

THE MUSIC OF AGGRESSION

The robin is not chirping cheerily of cheeriness,
nor is the chestnut-sided warbler pleased to meet you.
The black-throated green warbler
does not croon of murmuring trees.
The song sparrow is not inviting you
to put on the kettle for tea.
No.

Each tiny indignant property-rights advocate
sitting in his tree or straddling his fence
is hollering loud and clearly:
POSTED.  NO TRESPASSING.  KEEP OUT.
Out of here, quickly.
Flee, flee, or I’ll shoot you.
These are my trees.
If you know what’s good for you, you’ll skeedaddle.

The red-eyed vireo says it plain:
Here I am;  where are you?
This is mine;  go away.

NOW REJOICE: EXSULTET

This is the Light surrounding the smallness of the engendering explosion,
shining behind the sun, darkening the stars,
flashing in the lingering raindrop on the unfolding
olive leaf carried swift through the clearing sky,
glancing from the stone knife trembling
over the heart of the bound and plighted child,
pulling and driving the fretting dancing
slaves through the desert and the sea.

This is the night of trumpets sounding in the high places,
in the low places, waking the Earth  between,
every creature rising up, winging down
through the old darkness singing
one word, one word, one word.

The flaming sword is broken,
the tree of life spills her fruit into our open hands;
the life is poured out on the ground,
smeared on the door for ever.
The Watcher’s work is done.

This is the night Grandfather Adam rises
from his grave beneath the place of skulls,
he dances with Grandmother Eve in their garden.
We are remade with new breath and the dust of stars.
We dance together, all together
the dance of the bees and the flame.

This is the Light beckoning
from the doorway of the stable in the rock,
blazing fast and fierce through the gray places of all created time,
spilling red and warm from the cup He holds between His trembling hands,
dazzling and glittering around the tomb’s heavy seal
in the deepest night of Earth,
burning passageways in the dark:
one path for every soul.

A shorter version of this poem was published in the now-defunct magazine “The Other Side.”  It had been published in “The Living Church” earlier, but the editor of that did not even notify me of its publication–and would not give permission for republication without being credited.   “The Other Side” editor  considered that a justice issue–so she published it again.  I’m still grateful to her.  Interestingly enough, “The Other Side” is one of only two places I’ve been published that actually paid me.  The other was another radical Christian magazine.  Justice for poets!!!!