Tag Archives: damnation

Society’s Man

Society, your dream would have me beg
for pittance from a cruel employer’s hand,
and from my knees downward, not use my legs,
preferring that I genuflect, not stand,

to act as servant, bound to divine whim
that your appointed middlemen report.
What’s more, I must be weak, and bow to Him
who you insist directs my fate for sport.

No wonder I am just a half-grown lout
who spends my life in seeking childish joys,
when you have counseled me to forgo doubt
and are ashamed when men emerge from boys.

You take my destiny and claim my fate
should stay within the limits you proscribe,
denouncing me when I will not conform
or meekly take your bright and shiny bribe.

Who would choose the adulthood you profer,
all duty with no right, nor chance to rise?
No wonder most avoid it, or defer
a servitude unending ’til you die.

Yet when I pout and act a child of ten,
which seems how you and God define a man,
you feign surprise, and claim it’s always been
my choice to make; and either way, be damned.

13 APR 2005

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On Milton and Dante

To each their own: let others speak
of hells where self-damnation wreaks
eternal havoc on the mind and soul;
its torments let their thoughts embrace,
imagining some devil’s face.
I will not heed such useless folderol.

It should suffice that where we are
has troubles quite enough to mar
our whim’s concept of beauty and heart’s ease,
but to repel all good there is,
for unseen promise, is hubris,
and shows our vain humility in shame.

What hells you make, keep for your own;
and if that means you must disown me,
then so be it — I am not to blame.

I do not worry for my fate,
on sulphured brimstone meditate,
or wince imagining my flesh on fire.
Instead, I seek right now right here,
to walk straight on, and have no fear,
accepting both the roses and their briar.
For if you’re acting kind and nice
in hopes of reaching paradise,
you’re only seeking payment or reward,

but I try to do good because
it’s worth the doing. If that’s flawed,
I’d rather know that Devil than your Lord.

20 JAN 2005

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Tell Your Children

Thinking of Richie Havens (thanks to poetbear for dutifully transcribing “Younger Men Grow Older”), I reached into the deep chasm of the archives and pulled out the only Richie Havens-inspired song I ever wrote. It dates from about 12 years ago … imagine all kinds of “Freedom” like strumming … not my usual subject matter, but I was extremely irritated with some right-wing Christofascist ideology at the time, and it sort of just came out … it was probably a combination of Freedom Fighting in Nicaragua, Freedom Fighting in the Falkland Islands, and Freedom Fighting in Belfast.

God, it seems your houses are the very first to fall
Explosive words in your foundations leave most wicked scrawls
And your small children, those you haven’t time enough to save
Are gone, and your own armies lay your sod upon their graves

Please tell your children this is not how it should be
We cannnot kill each other off, and still claim to be free
Each day another heathen soul climbs nearer unto thee
But for myself, here in our hearts is near enough for me

Women and our children are the victims of this war
But that is nothing new, for it has happened here before
Perhaps the grail was something Arthur never should have saved
Before the world believed in You, and by Your will enslaved

Please tell your children this is not how it should be
We cannot hate with hatred and believe in love and peace
Each day another murdered soul cries nearer unto thee
But for myself, inside my heart is near enough for me

We sit upon the left of you, or perhaps on the right
Far from the door so we can ignore wailing in the night
From those gnashing with their gums because their teeth have fallen out
Your word has so deafened us that we can’t hear the shouts
Of your unbroken followers who toil within our jails
And keep our cross-constructors stocked with wood and sharpened nails

Please tell your children this is not what you had planned
We cannot draw the line between two kinds of fellow man
Each day another holy fool runs nearer unto thee
But for myself, here in my heart is near enough for me

1982

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Martyr Without a Cause

Waken, would-be martyrs seeking causes
to in an instant devote life and limb, and cling
half-drowned along the upturned raft of culture
that leaking, seeks the bottom of the quay.

The words that might be spoken now are silenced;
upon the stump the bloody axe rests, still
slick from the cloying jugular wine that pools
beneath the severed head there in the bowl.

A brotherhood of fools will find its equal
among the rushes, bent with each new wind
and whispering inanities and slogans
that pampleteers shed like oak leaves each fall.

What would you say aloud to fire this army
of malcontents who look to their own skins?
Beyond the content of their bellies, do they seem to care
for rhetoric that asks after their minds?

And those self-sacrificers dream redemption songs
that for a moment, find a tuneful ear
and are transformed beyond a pale chimera
that floats upon the stale, dry air, then fades.

Is there a cause worth half this senseless slaughter?
Behind the scenes, the tribal elders watch
and pick out young recruits that seem more likely
to run in panic; these make the best bullies.

What do the gods require from each new generation?
Are not the first-fruits destined for their hands?
To pose elsewise is suicide, beyond the help of prayer;
besides, a death unscheduled can’t be used.

The rebel tools that stock the workshops of the status quo
serve best if left to rust, their edges dulled.
What good is there in martyrdom to others’ causes
unless you’ve nothing worthwhile back at home?

Curse you to your own self-made hells, you preachers
who safe behind your pulpits can commit
your congregation, knowing they are malleable,
their self-will sapped to serve some future realm.

And those who in their natures, find the substance
of service, but are lacking steady work —
be sure the cause you choose is your own making
and not the sad agenda of the damned.

24 MAY 2004

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Ecumenics

A conversation I had earlier brought this thought to my mind.

I am, as one who seeks to find the commonalities in things, constantly drawn to comparative religion. My view of the varying religions of humanity, their supposed differences and the lines so vehemently drawn between them is much like the Sufi who observes that each blind man, although undoubtedly wise, has only his own hand-span of elephant by which to describe the elephant as a whole. In a different metaphor, that I used this evening to describe the limitations of man-imposed impressions of an omnipotent, omnipresent God, the divine is like the ocean, and each religion is a bucket of seawater standing on a different part of the shoreline, claiming that they have the nature of the entire sea in their tiny, limited bucket — when all they really have is the taste of salt-water — and that everyone else’s bucket cannot possibly have the essence of the sea within it. The person to whom I relayed this metaphor said, well, that’s not what my Bible says. And that brought me to another metaphor entirely. For the sake of this metaphor, I will use the word God (which, as George Bernard Shaw pointed out, is the most deceptive word in the English language, for it appears to refer to something that can be defined), but I really mean the underlying energy current that I feel enlivens, informs and embodies the universe. An earlier trip to Barnes & Noble, where I noticed the organization of books into various discrete sections — Religion, Eastern Religion, New Age, Occult, Mythology and Folklore, etc., also fueled the creation of this metaphor.

God is more than the Bible. God is more than the Koran. God is more than the Vedas. God is more than the Dhammapada. God is more than the Talmud, Torah, Kabbalah, Book of Mormon, Upanishads, Popul Vuh, Book of the Dead, Book of Common Prayer, Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha and Pseudo-Gospels combined.

God is more than Paul TIllich, Max Lucado, Billy Graham, Dr. Gene Scott, Pat Robertson, Ravi Zacharias, Charles Colson, Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale.
God is more than John Bunyan, Thomas a Kempis, Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, John Chrysentom, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard von Bingen and Ignatius Loyola.
God is more than Trungpa Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama, Krishnamurti, the Marharishi, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Idries Shah, Rumi and Ram Dass.
God is more than Silver Ravenwolf, Isaac Bonewits, Ray Buckland, Aleister Crowley, A.E. Waite, MacGregor Mathers, Joseph Smith, Doreen Valiente and Sybil Leek.

That all these books fit onto a single shelf, no more than 20 feet long, says it all. The fact is that God, if it is really GOD, is more than just a bookshelf of “religious books”.

God is the whole library. There can be no measure of knowledge outside the divine realm.

God is the Marquis de Sade, Henry Miller, Henry Rollins, Xavier Hollander, Kurt Vonnegut, Rush Limbaugh, Charles Dickens, J.D. Salinger, James Joyce and even Robert Anton Wilson, too.

God is the Joy of Cooking, the Joy of Sex, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Brave New World, Full Frontal Snogging, The Pickwick Papers, News from Lake Wobegon, Don Quixote, Howl, Moby Dick, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Black Like Me, Mein Kampf, To Kill a Mockingbird, Notes from the Underground, Dead Souls, Doctor Zhivago, A Death in Venice, Steppenwolf and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, too.

Who cares what your book says? Look around. There is not more to Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of, only than what is written down (and as Henry Miller said, how transformed, gutted and utterly emasculated is the word when translated from the mind to the paper), in your philosophy.

Ask the trees. They are the real martyrs of ALL religions — because they died to give you your narrow-minded viewpoint in print.

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Self-Damnation: a casbairdne

With words, my sentence fulfill:
the weak willed soul seeks to fail,
its too frail form doomed to fall
before bringing home the grail.

Too true; the trials and tests
that beset the searcher last
past the point where the first zest
wears out. Your whole fate is cast

in a breath’s breadth; there is time
for truth alone. You can find
a fool’s fitness in the rhyme
that in such straits comes to mind.

A rare few arrive alive;
ah, against such odds the scribe
in coughs and slow signs must strive
and wrest wild words to describe

What wonder their wandered path
has displayed. Most fail, their sad trail
littered with phrases, laughing
and half mad, lost in the veil.

So sentence me to madness –
I am glad to serve my curse.
This penance is not duress;
Others’ words would serve me worse.

08 APR 2004

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