A Reflection on Juneteenth

Crimes unimaginable

Sins unfathomable

Wrongs not righted

With an apology,

A soft word,

Or the stroke of a pen.

Pain to the deepest parts

Of the heart and soul,

The very fiber of one’s being,

A wound that doesn’t heal,

But rather cuts deeper

With every smile,

Every handshake,

On every pay day,

Every trip to the grocery store,

Every night at mealtime,

When they look at their children,

When they look at ours.

Privilege continues

Despite the lip service,

Despite the promises,

Amidst the meager gifts,

The dregs of easy charity

From the tatters of a bursting purse,

The guilt trip laid on thick

To the middle class and even

The working poor.

Those that lack for food,

Clothing or shelter,

Living barely day to day,

Not knowing where one’s next

Meal will come from.

And at the church the preacher

Says try harder, pray more,

Save your dollars

So you can send your little ones

To a good college,

Make them study,

Keep them out of trouble,

Tell them you love them,

That you’re proud of them

For that report card.

What do you say

When the white kid

Calls them the n-word?

What do you say

When you don’t have a job

Because you refused

To kiss your supervisor’s butt

When he would talk to you

Like you were nothin’,

Just a cog in his machine,

A disposable, replaceable,

Optional, neglectable,

Insultable, disrespected,

Used, abused, tossed out

To the street

Like so much garbage,

Black man?

Power

Wrong meets right.

The fight is strong.

Laugh, they will.

Cry out, they must.

Shout, at the top of their lungs—

Justice must prevail.

So many innocent lives

Have been crushed by the fist

Of the oppressor!

So many suffer

Because of the greed

And the arrogance

Of the powerful.

The powerful?

Who is powerful?

What is power?

Don’t you know that

The wind has changed course

On this hot, dry day.

The wind! The water!

The earth! The animals!

The birds! The insects!

The trees! Yes, even the trees!

Look at an old oak tree,

And tell me about power!

Look at a rushing stream,

And tell me about power!

Watch a lion kill its prey,

And tell me about power!

Is a gun, power?

In the hands of a six year old, a gun is just as powerful as in the hands of a grown man!

A gun is just a tool.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it useful.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it powerful.

And when a thousand voices scream,

That’s power!

When the people speak as one,

That’s power!

Don’t be afraid.

Be excited!

Be joyful!

Be glad!

For power has come to the people,

And they will not be denied this moment.

They have prayed,

And they have worked,

And they have suffered

For this moment.

Listen to the wind blow

Through the trees!

Justice has come like a mighty rush of wind,

And anything that’s old, anything that’s weak,

Anything that’s not tied down tight,

Is gonna blow away!

Those old tricks, old ways,

Cowardly words, weak attitudes,

Straw men beware!

The wind of justice has come to blow you…

Away!

My Friend, Covid-19

Reach out—flex.

Cringe back—gasp!

Brush up against—

Sorry! My mistake!

What the (bleep) are you doing?

Watch yourself! Be careful!

Did you wash your hands?

Every hour?

You don’t realize how much you touch.

Oh, but only if…

We could meet again,

Hang out. Have coffee together.

Can I read you a story?

No, you might cough on me!

Let’s start over.

We can’t.

What’s done is done.

Where is your mask?

You’ve got to…

Only, perhaps,

It is too late.

Perhaps.

Courageous Relationships (link to video)

www.saintpaulsumc.org/sermon/new-places-for-new-people-courageous-relationships/

Click on the above link to view a sermon by Rev. Dr. Kandace Brooks in which she challenges her congregation to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to others, to ask for help or to be of help, specifically to the mentally ill, suicidal, etc.

A Miracle

Gliding along the currents of air,

I’m lifted by the light that shines on me.

Love permeates my being,

Like a spear piercing my side.

The nails are hammered through

My ragged wrists. I cry out,

My God, my God, why?

Have you forsaken me?

The dusk descends and they lower

My cross, loosen my body

And carry me to my tomb.

I stand on a mountaintop.

Throw yourself down!

God’s angels will save you.

Turn these stones into bread.

You are hungry. Go ahead.

Freedom! I am set free by God’s hand.

Risen at last and the tombstone

Is rolled away.

Headed Down

Flying in circles,

Spiraling down,

Headed straight

For the barren ground.

Screaming for my god

To save me today.

If only have mercy,

A bit of grace.

I see the red flags

Following me.

Everyone knows

My mind tends to flee.

Can you see the remnant

Of my failing try?

Can you see me fall

From up on high?

I’m headed down

To the barren ground,

To dig me a hole

And never come out.

Bend Your Knees!

Do you wonder how I feel?

I want to curl up in a ball.

Go to sleep and never wake up,

Except I don’t live in a vacuum.

There are family and friends,

My wife, of course,

At the top of the list.

If I left the state of things

Would be grim, full of sin,

And everything.

You look so thin!

You look so nothing,

So drab, so flat.

You look like you’re losing

All your fat!

You are mine and I am yours.

Made for each other

In heaven, by George.

We’ll go out together

Or maybe you first.

That’s the way you want it,

On earth.

I don’t know what I’d do

With myself.

Wrestle dust balls from the shelf.

There’s much to look forward to

In this life.

But I can’t remember

Any but strife.

There’s much to hope for,

Much to dream,

But all I want to do

Is scream.

We’ll make it.

Don’t you worry.

There’ll be lots of fun and flurry.

We will gather all around.

We won’t stop for any sound.

Come with me to the holy gate.

Promise I won’t be irate.

We’ll enjoy your company.

We’ll be sure to bend our knees,

Jumping off the side of the boat,

In the castle’s shallow moat.

A Figment

One day I had to work late into the night.  I was very tired, and I was not looking forward to the walk home, which was several miles.  It was almost midnight when I left the office, and luckily I kept a flashlight in my desk for emergencies.  I wouldn’t need the flashlight until I passed through the town proper, though, so I put it in my coat pocket.

As I got to the edge of downtown, I came up to the town cemetery.  I heard a scream, which then was muffled into silence.  At first, I was inclined to believe it was only a figment of my imagination, but even so, I felt more vulnerable every second.  I thought about just ignoring it, but my conscience got the better of me, so I decided to go check it out.

As I passed through the gate, I heard another scream.  My heart was captured by it, and I was drawn to it.  I searched amid the tombstones for a while, thinking some unfortunate victim was trapped somewhere or in the clutches of some monster.  Just when I had made up my mind to retrace my steps, two glowing eyes rose up to meet me.  They were not fearsome, but coaxing.  I hesitated, but then a large hand reached forward and grabbed me by the neck with a grip that was superhuman.

It dragged me back into the cemetery, where the streetlights were blocked by trees.  I started to shake with fear at the thought of what this ghoul might do with me.  I thought about the scream I had heard before, and if that was any example, I was in for it.  He took me back to a big oak tree, where I saw something hideous.  Dangling from the limbs of the tree were many thick ropes, and at the end of the ropes were men, women and children, all with grim faces.  Their emaciated bodies were covered with cuts and bruises.  Their feet were covered with blood, dripping as if freshly drawn.

As I feared, my fate was soon to be the same unless I could somehow escape.  I tried swinging my body behind, kicking my feet and pounding on the ghoul’s hands with all my might, but to no avail.  I was trapped, just like these other poor creatures, and soon I would be joining them as another decoration on this ghoul’s tree.

That’s when I remembered that I had a flashlight in my pocket.  I decided anything was worth a try, so I reached down and grabbed it like a weapon.  I shined it straight into the ghoul’s eyes, and he dropped me.  I ran back to the gate as fast as I could.  I don’t know if the ghoul followed me or not, because I never looked back.  When I got to the gate, I ran through and kept running for a while, just to be on the safe side.  Finally I looked back, and did not see anyone or anything behind me.
Thinking back now, I realize how stupid I was to enter that darkened cemetery.  I should have run away as soon as I saw those glowing eyes, but oh, how they pierced my soul.  I went straight to bed when I got home, and when I woke up, I thought back to what happened the night before, and I thought to myself, “Did I dream it, or was it true?”  It was so unbelievable that I never told anyone until now as I write this entry in my journal.  I know I won’t be walking into any cemeteries at night again, that’s for sure.

Family Friction

Picture of graves decorated with flags at Arli...
Image via Wikipedia

Two of a kind,

One that used to be,

And one that is now.

Time in a flip,

The old are young,

And the young are mature.

 

Then, darkness falls.

A deep depression and

A bit of dementia.

 

I tried to barricade

Myself in a room

In your house,

But it was your room,

Your house.

 

I had become an outsider.

We had grown apart.

The jolly trickster that

Was my grandfather

Had become an unhappy

Old man.

And I had hit a wall,

Fallen into a deep pit.

 

We butted heads

Until we made it home.

To the end, you were true.

And I would not appreciate

Your love and loyalty

For many years, long

Past your time to die.

 

As I sat in the car,

Listening to the 21-gun

Salute, I remembered

The stories you used to

Tell me about the war.

 

And I realized that time

Had taken its toll on a

Wonderful man, a man

That provided for a wife

And family and then

For another generation of

Five grandsons, all of whom

Adored you.

 

I know that despite

Our differences, you look

Down on me from

Heaven…and smile.

Death Waits

Swallowtail dying
Image via Wikipedia

Tricks lick ticks from the tongue.

Reaching slowly for a gun.

Running swiftly for your son.

He won’t help you now.

Pray.  Pray to the God of the Heavens,

That He will have mercy on your wretched,

Squeamish soul as you crawl through the

Dirt, hoping for one last breath.

Death comes to us all.  Beneath our hopes

And dreams, denials and delusions, we all

Know it.  Death whispers our name as we

Get ready for work, as we drive to work,

As we forget out troubles in our daily routine,

As we come home to our spouse and children,

As we lay our heads on the pillow and fade off

To sleep.  Death watches us breathe.  Death

Hears our yearnings, our curses, our sighs.

Death is our constant companion from “the

cradle to the grave”.  Death waits.