Fat Pain and other poems
Doors of Addiction
When DeLorean was arrested
I spent the weekend at the home
of a drug dealer: snorting coke, watching the news
and waiting for the door to be kicked in.
On Sunday, something kept knocking against my hollow soul
the way rocks clang off an empty, metal barrel.
Echoing, I drank more beer.
Later, kneeling before a shifting toilet,
I asked Almighty God to let me live just that day.
My face burned and the veins of my neck ached from the strain
Covered with sweat, I was afraid
but could soon forget that God had listened.
Sometimes then, I would see myself from across the room
and wonder if anyone else
thought I looked like a talking dead body
waiting for God to kick the door in.
truth is out of favor
to a fault
Yet, I hold fast
to Christ-the Contrast
Who only yields
Old pain scrapes dull
(without need for words)
over callous pores
a familiar struggle—
a recurring dream.
But, new pain is a curse
it screams, it explodes
a complacent bubble
of raw nerves exposed by ease
A fat pain torn like a hole,
surrounds the eyes with sharp surprise
rips into the soul
and escapes the lips—proud.
Yes, skinny is quieter,
and skinny pain lighter
while the fat are weighed down
cursing God aloud
they set the city afire
Is an invention
daily selected and spun
Unless it is so big and bloody
It demands somebody’s attention
Then the graphic highlights
Are trafficked on wi-fi,
Just another U-tube bouquet
a touch of color for a dark day
The Harlot’s Cup
This great society
no longer rots quietly in pseudo-family lots
but, like some dying drunk in a dirty, business suit
it pleads on the absolute brink
for “Justice!”… though really for a drink.
It is so confused.
Our great society
will not go quietly to Hell
where the child dies for his mother,
the Press interviews itself,
and pollsters poll each other
All the while
holding up the foaming cup
we are so confused.
The New Left
As a child, you squirmed a lot
with impatient desire
empowered by a new box
of multi-colored crayons
and enough blank pages
to narrate any tale you could inspire
but chose instead
to scribble violent swirls of red and black
Now, we hang your gory,
from every corner of culture
like an embarrassing
sports some accessories
of love, yet
is so divorced from reality
it’s dressed in the actual apparel
of fear and worry
so unnatural it need be enforced
at the end of many a hurried
had just clumsily swung home
that sword of liberation
shattering the old, blue dome
the family, national
value system canopy
lost, the overarching view
showered down on the masses
all cut to confusion by
a trillion looking-glasses
and everywhere the cry:
“Change, change anything at all!”
So she held up that sword
and clumsily swung at the walls
Yet, God smiles
gently gathering us in
from four winds.
Good master, what does it take?
Is a hero an empathetic,
Is a hero simply someone
or Aids or breast cancer?
What is the answer?
Is a hero merely a lucky stroke,
a child dialing 911
or a dog barking at smoke?
Is a hero merely a nod and wink of lies:
an inside joke at funeral homes
where everyone is cannoznized?
Or do heroes really creep along
common roads unsung
or rise from tired neighborhoods…?
But why do you call Me good?
There is but One
sees through everything
and once upon a time
in the thought of you
before ever a thing came to be:
before God allowed
the scraping sound of birthing worlds,
before the great swirling whirls of possibility
burst forth like a storm tossed sea,
before the proud waves were held back
or the fountains of the deep restrained,
before wild confusion receded and stability appeared like dry land,
before He saw that it was good and
the Nothing-horrors cast that first envious look,
before the page, before the Book…
moving playfully over the face of the deep
knowing the end from the beginning
She saw the whole, wondrous sea
(like a vast pool of knowledge and possibility)
churn out in violent waves
birthing you and me.
Yes, before this limited place
played out all its natural limits
and the broad sea became a little lake of eternal fire
Ever receding, ever fleeing
the Face of God…
She delighted in the thought of you
and laid down a humble yet courageous plan of rescue
A wise but dangerous path
for only He could transcend those waters!
only He who longs for her,
the Eternal, Creative Song of the Father.
only He, that terrible Name,
Who knows whence She came
and where She is going
The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
Though it seared into my soul—authentic
though foul and dissolute
I meant it
Though well-marked by the beast,
It seems true in hell, at least
“I was myself!”
[The following is Chapter 2 from my free book “Primal Ethics: what our kids are taught in school and culture”.]
What are the basic worldviews?
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1
The Earth moves through space as part of a Grand Story. Some have poetically called this unfolding story the “Song of Creation”. They believe in a Creator. They believe God has a purpose. Thus, they approach each day within a Big Narrative of meaning and purpose. For example, such people may well reason that there is an order to Creation—that human life is more valuable than birds—that life seems to stack up vertically from the ground up. It rises from mineral to plant life to animals to humans and, ultimately, God is at the top. They see our physical world ascending into the spiritual. Many recognize that humans are uniquely composed of body and soul. And, the soul—the individual human heart—is at the white-hot intersection of freedom where the physical and spiritual universe collides. Such people may well recognize the moral demands of all this, but their lives have a treasured place within the Grand Story—each moment filled with eternal meaning.
However, a growing number disagree. They say there is no overarching meaning to life—no “meta-narrative”. There is no created order because there is no Creator. Mankind is not the purpose of the universe because there is no God with a purpose. The human race is merely another species that came along the evolutionary process. In the vast expanse of time and space, people are actually quite insignificant. As a result, there are no eternal responsibilities. There are no fixed truths—no moral absolutes. We are not confined by transcendent, moral guidelines like “10 Commandments”. Life is what we make it. We should be utterly free to write our own story.
These are the main 2 outlooks in conflict. One believes in God, great meaning, responsibility and a high purpose for mankind within a created order: it is something of a Vertical worldview. The other worldview is quite Flat as everything is reduced to the physical.
For example, in February of 2003 the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) began to display a series of gruesome, 60-foot billboard signs that compared the Nazi slaughterhouses of 6 million Jews to our modern food processing factories. There was an understandable, public outcry. Comparing starving prisoners to a plate of fried chicken seemed completely wrong. But, PETA was merely expressing their core belief that the world is Flat. To them, there is no “created order”. Everything evolved randomly. Molecules formed various shapes. Therefore, one shape is not superior to any other shape. To PETA there is a kind of molecular equality, with no overarching, moral guidelines that would give a baby girl any more value than a baby seal. Perhaps, animals are superior to humans because they are often the innocent victims of human manipulation. We eat them. Therefore, PETA members have a wellspring of anger that eludes many of their fellow citizens. They have developed a kind of Flat ethics when the great majority of us still see Vertically. But, what exactly is a Vertical worldview?
Imagine you’re walking down the avenue passed shops and restaurants. In one of the widows you see a woman sitting down to a plate of fish and lemon. A Vertical worldview would first recognize a distinction between the woman and the albacore. According to a created order human life is far superior to a fish. Therefore, we could make a value judgment that fishing is a moral activity. The Vertical worldview is brimming with such moral distinctions and subsequent value judgments. Thus, we can recognize universal truths and moral absolutes based, first and foremost, on a created order and these imposing a sense of common decency on human action.
In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor E. Frankl concluded that there are only two races of people: the Decent and the Indecent. This sounds true to me because I see and think in vertical terms. I know there is a God and, therefore, a created order of natural laws and rights. Whether God used 13.7 billion years of adaptation and, perhaps, some evolution or whether it was a more direct process, I still recognize the classic outlook of an ascending order: from lifeless chemicals to plant life to animals and from people to the spiritual nature of mankind to God the Creator. I see transcendence to the human spirit that exceeds our physical bodies. Thus, as I look across humanity I don’t see strangers. I see my brothers and sisters under God. These are people, with various shades of skin, each with eternal souls and a God-given dignity and beauty unique to themselves. And, I’m reminded of Martin Luther King’s observation that people should not be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.
Frankel and Reverend King obviously had a vertical way of seeing life—that people have more intrinsic worth than their flesh and bone. That is because the Vertical worldview recognizes a dignity that transcends the physical world. And, here is an important point. The Flat worldview either must ignore this great dignity or try to spread it equally to all of Nature. Therefore, really flat people—like PETA—may extend equal dignity to all things: to birch trees and Girl Scouts and polar bears alike. Far enough down that road, it leads to the idea that everything is supremely dignified—that is, everything is part of god (pantheism). Or, flat thinkers might decide that “dignity” does not exist at all—that everything is completely meaningless (nihilism). Both of these contradictory ideals can be generated from a Flat worldview.
The Loving Middle
Now, in modern America, it is widely argued that there are actually 3 worldviews in play: the physically Flat, the spiritually Vertical and a tolerant or “loving middle” position. Yes, many people today would like to consider themselves as open-minded centrists. These are well-intentioned, spiritual people—mostly Christians—who seek a workable compromise with the Flat worldview. Tolerance and compassion are some of the central drivers of their worldview. These would actualize the love of God in the world by uplifting the lowly and understanding those with whom they differ and, in turn, build bridges of peace and unity—a noble goal indeed.
There is only one problem. The Loving Middle people don’t seem to understand the first thing about those with whom they differ. They don’t grasp that the Flat worldview is a closed system of thought, that Flat people cannot really factor in the “delusions” of theists and, most importantly, that the Flat world order ultimately leads to dysfunction, corruption and inhuman coercion. Yet, because of their naïve misunderstanding, the Loving Middle people voluntarily quarantine the sweeping narrative of Created order and meaning—of their own Vertical worldview—to the realm of near insignificant, private opinion. But, this does not achieve some noble or lasting public peace. Rather, it only serves to more thoroughly flatten society.
This little book will show how and why the “loving” and “empathetic” steer a course for peace, equality and social bliss…but end up with the exact opposite result.
Here are some hard hitting and insightful poems. The end of the book has a delightful excerpt from my e-book "Primal Ethics: what our kids are taught in school and culture".