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.


Trial Size

Sloping down and then back up, like a speeding truck, I am searching for your love. Transubstantiate, lift then push, then go all out, a mystery solved, doubts soothed, memories calmed, nightmares called what they are. Do you dream at night? I do. I fly through the sky on my back, steering with my feet. Trial size.

Both Ways

Sharing smothered thoughts,

Restricted feelings abound.

Hesitation rules the imagination,

Hiding from the truth,

Although it tortures me.

Yearning for stability,

Some kind of consistency.

If only I could have it both ways!

A Second Birth

Crawl down
Underneath the ground.
Bury yourself,
But don’t make a sound.

Fury follows you
Into the unknown.
It fries your flesh.
It crushes your bones.

You try to escape,
But there is no turning back.
You must keep going
On this dark path.

Can you see
The pain in my eyes?
Can you feel
The one I despise?

It all comes down
To one simple thing:
Will you forgive?
You must cut this string.

It binds you tight
To your inner fears.
It ties you up
In knots through the years.

Trying to live
With all of this hate
Boiling inside you
Will drive you insane.

Cut it all loose!
Set yourself free!
Run from this place,
And you will feel glee.

You must tear the truth
From all of these lies.
You must face it now,
You must stop the cries

Of the poor
And the needy.
The world never dies,
Degree by degree.

But instead we will sigh
And forget all our hurts,
Our cold isolation,
A second birth.

In the Now

Cringe, post a mark.
Laugh, be a tart.
Run, lift, screeeeam!
You’re on the cake and in the cream!

Do you know the secret
Of doing good business?
Tell the truth,
That’s what I always say.

Wars wage out the window,
Behind us, on the front lawn.
We sleep a soundless sleep,
In the quiet of our bedroom.

Catch a wing,
Flutter to the sky.
Try your best to escape
This broken world, or die.

Get a high from joking
Ruffians smoking dope.
Get a wild hair up with
Nothing to do but cry

For the fun you’ll never have,
The love you’ll never know,
The pleasure you will never,
Ever find in abandoned alleys

Where you spend your waking hours.
Shooting up only brings you down
In the sorry end.
So, which way to turn?

Live to the fullest on the battlefield
Of life. Never give up!
Treasure your dreams,
And follow your heart.

Even if you never achieve
Your goals, it is your dreams
And the yearning of your heart
That let you know for sure

That you are still alive.
For without a dream,
There is no hope,
And without a heart,

There is no passion.
So dream on,
Always knowing
That in the end,

You were completely
Here, and completely
Alive and awake,
In the now.

Sometimes I Freak, Part III

Sometimes I freak when I go to church. When you step into a church somehow you feel like you should be on your best behavior. That’s not really a Godly feeling or sentiment, since I believe that God accepts us exactly as we are, wherever we are, but that is how I was raised. In fact, growing up, my mother was ruthless in spurring me and my brother to get ready and stop goofing around on Sunday morning. What was important was looking good by being on time, behaving well, answering questions intelligently and in a spiritual way—basically, putting on a front. Lord knows my family was falling apart at the seams in every way, with my grandmother passing away, my parents’ separation and eventual divorce, and my mother’s undiagnosed mental illness. All was not well in the Bowman household. And those feelings come back to me today as I step through the doors of a church, any church, even one as positive, inclusive and accepting as mine. I wonder what deviant thoughts people suspect me of (well, actually, I am quite the skeptic), what deviant acts I am guilty of that separate me from other Christians and from God, what rebellion I am in that alienates me from the same. Going to church is something I want to do, but at the same time, I do struggle with these things every time, and it compromises my experience on the whole.

Sometimes I freak when I try to pray. Yes, God and I are not on the best of terms—haven’t been for a long time. In fact, except for when I pray with others—my wife at the dinner table and the occasional attempt at a weekly prayer partnership, my male prayer partner, something I initiated this year as an attempt to get closer to God because of my lack of an intimate relationship, and the occasional prayer with my Sunday School class and with the congregation in the sanctuary—I am not on speaking terms with God. I know after that enumeration of instances it doesn’t sound bad, but I guess I am a perfectionist, and I realize how far I am from any kind of daily routine which would bring me into any kind of genuine intimacy with God. Being alone with God is a frightening experience for me. Feelings of emotional and physical abuse from childhood along with visions of an angry Yahweh of the Old Testament conjure a being to be faced that is not the loving, caring Jesus that spoke to the disciples in the upper room that fateful night and told them that when we see him we have seen the Father, because he and the Father are one. When it’s just me and God (and I have to admit it is always the vengeful Father that I envision in my mind, not the gentle Jesus), I just freeze up. Gone are the soothing thoughts of “come to me ye who are weary, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Instead it is a booming God that stares down at me and demands to know every sin I have committed and has come to punish me for them in some crazy sadistic way that makes me cringe and from which I yearn to escape. Not a great relationship, obviously.

Sometimes I freak when I open the Bible. I’ll admit, it’s intimidating. Yes, there is a lot of wisdom there. Yes, I believe it is divinely inspired. Yes, I believe there is potential for healing, instruction, direction, inspiration, grace, forgiveness—all that. But you know what else there is? God. He is there, waiting, behind those words. For what? I don’t know. But the potential scares me. I have read the entire Bible many times over, and if there is one thing I know for sure, there is power behind those words. And the thought of being overpowered, perhaps in a scary way, is what keeps me from those words. I have been overpowered, many times, in absolute terror, and I have run from figures of authority, figures who were supposed to be trustworthy caretakers, symbols of love and support, that have turned on me like a viper lunging for its prey. Is God like that? My intellect tells me no, but my heart, and my body, are not so sure. After all, if humans, blood, family, can be tyrannical, how much more can God? And there is something else—God is all powerful. Do I want to surrender myself to an all powerful tyrant? Do I want his thoughts to be my thoughts? No, not by a long shot.