Archive for the ‘Poetry’ category

A Sign For You

December 11, 2014

Sinclair Ferguson writes here, ” Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil…There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions.”

It was not an angelic chorus
he first heard, but his mother’s anguished cry.
His first breaths were
scented with dung,
his first sight some smears of blood.
Soon he felt the earth rumble
with trampling horse’s hooves.
He soon tasted the tears of Rachels’ lament.

The homesick vagrants who visited him
first, and wondered at heaven’s exile — they
saw an infant bound in cloths
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow
made in a cold stone, resting
like a corpse in a sarcophagus —
no radiant beams marked his advent.

Now Walmart will outfit the parents with halos,
snuggle the fat baby in a fleece blanket,
and sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold. Hallmark will tell the story
voiced with British accents
staged for suburban flat screens, drenched in sentiment.
The message is stripped of darkness.
But it was for orphans and lepers and hookers,

it was for the night shift workers
He was anointed.
He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him. Creation was still groaning
at His birth and a dragon waited to devour Him.
That bright star leads  to a tomb.
The sign for you, yet still
is  cloth strips and hollowed-out stone.

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Ode to a Nameless, Homeless Lady

April 11, 2014

The general rule is that those who listen most and speak least will be the most useful to sufferers. —David Murray

At last, Dr. Murray and I are in perfect agreement!  I am appalled at his reckless recommendation of the use of anti-depressants — dismissing their considerable harms, and ignoring the research that grant them of  no more benefit than placebo. Therefore, readers of his blog, and his  book, “Christians Get Depressed, Too” are not given true informed consent. Or good information, as when he repeats that canard,  that disproven theory about chemical imbalances.   And when he was informed about his misinformation, he redacted that blogpost, surreptitiously.

But, as he says here, it is  good to just listen to those in crisis, and not to be overfond of your own rhetoric and presuppositions. What is most important is that those in the throes of that particular terror — that he prefers to call ‘mental illness’–  feel safe, and especially safe in our churches. And that is my passion — that these kinds of sufferers feel safe and really listened to, and that their spiritual crisis not be seen as the product of a ‘broken brain’. Yet it is the meds that break the brains of some. 

We must listen, really listen to those suffering. Because in its distress, a body can speak in its own idiosyncratic language that disturbs the social order, and instead of being respectfully listened to, sufferers are treated with means that if they had any agency over their own bodies, they would vehemently protest. That is also part of what is lacking in  informed consent.  So we must make a supernatural effort to listen to those who might be standing on a kind of holy ground.  I think that if Dr. Murray would read my testimony, he would understand what I mean by this.

When those in soul crisis don’t protest when men in  white coats come for them — so that  feelings of peace and safety might be restored for everyone else– it is really saying something. It says that these hapless individuals feel so unsafe and so helpless that they would permit even this kind of huge indignity. I saw this kind of emergency in a nameless, homeless lady  who allowed herself to be straitjacketed and carted away this week at our church’s outreach to the homeless, a population that consists of a good portion of the intractably mentally ill, a population that is skyrocketing because of reckless overprescription of psychoactive drugs,  as journalist Robert Whittaker documents in his groundbreaking book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic”

It was so interesting to me that after educating all week on this blog about the Murphy Bill, which would legalize such callous disregard for basic human rights in a huge government power grab, I found myself kneeling on the ground, getting as close as I could to a hostile, frightened woman — really trying to listen to what she said, and in her babblings of government conspiracy to cut off peoples’ feet, I heard her fear for her own — statistically  quite likely to be — gangrenous legs.  She had contempt for  authorities who exploit and mistreat, yet she submitted to the eyerolls of the fireman who came to give ‘medical treatment’. That was really saying something. I heard her fear, and her desire for medical attention. I fervently pray that she got good care.

Because, on the ground in our church fellowship hall, it wasn’t about me and my campaign against coerced care, and mandated chemical lobotomies for the poor and the socially inconvenient. It wasn’t even about my grief about my mother and daughter who went one day into that same locked ward. It was about this woman and what she really needed. And knowing that Diabetes Type 2 is one of the hugest risks to this overmedicated population, I heard her fears for her hurting feet — and though I  felt anguish as I watched her go meekly into that ambulance, I understood that the  pain I felt was more about me.

Sometimes when I am really in a great amount of grief  I have to express it in poetry. I think this one in particular comes from a general feeling of not being respected or really listened to in the conversations I have about these issues.  At times like this, I really identify with the homeless mentally ill population that is so outside the camp, whose inchoate passion is never properly interpreted. That doesn’t feel safe.

 

Ode to a Nameless Homeless Lady

I know it was just that my friends wanted you to be safe,
that is why they called 911
after you wouldn’t get off the floor after our dinner.

Oh, I hope you really enjoyed
the food we made, it was a feast wasn’t it?

Enchiladas,chile beans, mexican rice, an amazing salad —

All this effort dear lady, to make  felt sanctuary replace
your nebulous fear, so that surrounded
by the presence of  the One  God you can palpably sense
every week, you’ll be so God-haunted you’ll hunt for him
as you walk your lonely roads on your hurting feet.

My friends just wanted you to be safe, and that is why
that scary ambulance came. And why everyone came to look.
And really, you did not protest too much about it,
this might be the only occasion when you are paid attention to!
Except at such a costly price of  indignity.
But I am the one who took offense
at the patronizing tone of the fireman
as he got you into that chair they straitjacketed
you to, and wheeled away!

Because I remember my mother.
She was once at that same locked ward,
a literal padded cell — I saw it!
I peeked at her through the window there.
Are you really someone’s mother, too?  Oh that
You would be my mother, my sister —  and feel  safe
as you find your home in Him.

But you went meekly.
Perhaps you are used to such insults,
Or you were too distracted by your own real pain.

From the way you talked about conspiracies
the authorities have to cut off feet, I could hear your fear
for your health. I hope you got good medical attention!
When you are hearing  your voices sometimes
you aren’t listened to
at all, and your symptoms are commonly dismissed
as “Somatic Symptom Disorder” — do you hate the way they
can dismiss having anything Real to do with  you, except
to increase your dosage — because of convenient categories?

How sometimes they don’t listen, and  don’t remember
that diabetes is definitely one of the most common
Adverse Effects of the expensive atypical anti-psychotics
you are probably prescribed to control your
anti social behavior and your anger at your mother —
with little regard for serious side effects.

“These include major, rapid weight gain
— 40 pounds is not uncommon — Type 2 diabetes,
breast development in boys,
irreversible facial tics
sudden heart failure with polypharmacy
in the young, and among the elderly
an increased risk of death.”

No wonder your pain is ignored.
No one ever really listens to the ravings of a lunatic
who says everything’s  a conspiracy.
Even the  very real pain you try to describe in your feet

with your own bodies unique language.
And you are curled up into the comfort of a womb
like my own daughter did that day
because no one cares about your dying, really.
Only a daughter would, or your mama who is probably  dead.

No one cares to connect your babblings
to the the common side effects of the drugs
they use to dose you to your death,  never
really listening to you! But you have seen others
in permanent wheelchairs, and you are afraid.

And you should be! I wish I could help you
but you will not even tell us your name,
and why should you? They won’t even let
you choose your own name for your
infirmities, the way Jesus did with Legion,
before he brought him to his own right mind.

Jesus gives even demoniacs some human agency.

Jesus let Legion diagnose his  condition.
He  wanted Legion to know he was known, and to
Comfort him before he set him free.

Keep your name secret from your captors,
and from me too, until you know me.
Jesus knows your true name
and he will connect me to it
when I pray for you.
So I don’t blame you for not sharing
the very last thing
you have left, for we have stolen
from you the dignity of  body agency
and forgotten that you, too
are made in the image of God.

You are invited to eat with us again, dear Nameless Lady,
at our delicious feasts we host for madwomen
and prodigal sons and hobos — all sinners and good
for nothings like me, who will sit with you
at your table and bring you a cup of cold water
and touch your hands, and pray for healing
for your feet if you let us. But first you give permission.
We long to  restore some measure of nobility
that the harsh streets and a corrupt system
of ‘care’ have ripped away from you,
oh dear Nameless Homeless Lady!

 

 

 On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, please oppose the Murphy Bill HR #3717, because:

“People will turn away from forced and coercive services.
We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others.
We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.

So many difficulties arise in life,
especially when our parents, schools and communities
have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective.

Connection, unconditional positive regard,
trauma informed services and safety
must replace coercive, medical models
and forced services if we hope to help others heal.”

words of Cindy Peterson Dana, as a comment on a thread at Mad in America, titled– Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research

 

The Reason For a Cage, Again?

April 10, 2014

Eulogy for our own little pet canary, “Knox”
found dead in his sleep, April 14, 2014

The Reason for a Cage, Again?

But I did it for your own good, little bird now perished
oh you of sweet voice and vibrant plumage.
Your cheery canary’s song I cherished,
yet you lie cornered and stiffened —  still imprisoned in your cage!

But you know, Knox, it would have been suicide
to let you wander the wild skies and nest among the finches —
All your gloating cousins you enviously eyed
as they pecked the seed cup pinned against your own window.

Never again will I cage one touched with fire.
Never again will a creature made in God’s image
grow weaker and cease to sing under my patronage,
his tortured last pants pleading for his hearts desire!

 

 On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, please oppose the Murphy Bill HR #3717, because:

“People will turn away from forced and coercive services.
We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others.
We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.

So many difficulties arise in life,
especially when our parents, schools and communities
have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective.

Connection, unconditional positive regard,
trauma informed services and safety
must replace coercive, medical models
and forced services if we hope to help others heal.”

words of Cindy Peterson Dana, as a comment on a thread at Mad in America, titled– Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research

 

A Sign for You

December 21, 2013

Christmas 2003: The Nativity

Here is the newest iteration of my Christmas poem. Someday I will perfect it. I feel vindicated by Sinclair Ferguson, who writes here, Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil…There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions.”

It was not an angelic chorus
he first heard, but his mother’s anguished cry.
His first breaths were
scented with dung,
first sight, some smears of blood.
So soon, to feel the earth rumble
with trampling horse’s hooves,
So soon to taste tears, and with Rachel, to lament.

Those smelly vagrants who visited,
those first to wonder at heaven’s exile —
saw an infant bound in cloths
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow
made in a cold stone, resting
like a corpse in a sarcophagus —
no radiant beams marked this advent.

Today we outfit the parents with halos,
snuggle a fat baby in a cosy blanket,
and sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold. We tell the story
voiced with British accents
for suburban flat screens, drenched in sentiment.
We strip the message of any darkness,
but it was for orphans and lepers and hookers,

it was for the night shift workers
He was anointed.
He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him. Creation was still groaning
at His birth–because a dragon waited to devour Him!
That bright star leads  to a tomb.
The sign for you, yet still
is  cloth strips and hollowed-out stone.

A Sign for You

December 16, 2012

Christmas 2003: The Nativity

I edited this again, and yes, it is even more dystopian.  But it  seems appropriate this grief-stricken season.

It is not  angelic Excelsis Deos, but
a mother’s anguished cry he first hears–
then the baby king breathes in
the scent of dung,
opens eyes to smears of blood
feels the earth rumble
with soldier’s horse’s hooves —
and tastes the tears of Rachel’s lament.

The smelly vagrants who visit,
who are first to wonder at Heaven’s exile:
an infant bound in cloths
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow
made in a cold stone, resting
like a corpse in a sarcophagus —
know suffering marks his true advent.

But we outfit the parents with halos,
snuggle a fat baby in a cosy blanket,
and sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold. We must tell our story
voiced with British accents
for suburban flat screens, drenched in sentiment.
We strip the angelic message of its mourning
–but it was for orphans and lepers

and hookers –for the night shift workers
He was anointed.
He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him.  Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
The bright star leads  to a tomb.
The sign for you yet still
is  cloth strips and hollowed-out stone.

Joy of Stones

April 7, 2012

Rocking Stone, Cuff Hill Alas no longer rocks....

Surely the stone cried out when
the ponderous weight of it
was pushed by some hidden hand,
and mysteriously rolled away.

Surely the stone was singing then–
perhaps in rapture–it was
first witness to corruption’s collapse.
The stone saw the grave

give up its relentless
gravity, that death had no power
to return to dust the children of men.
Jesus  spoke this truth:

that where stark silence is
the stones must speak His praise.
And in that moment the yearning
of all creation echoes in

that stone shout of Hosanna!
but is quiet again.
Until Apocalypse, until after,
after the stones have fallen,

when every broken body is gone,
and every tomb is empty.
Then we shall all hear
the joy of stones.

This Shall Be A Sign

December 24, 2011
Christmas 2003: The Nativity

Image by DUCKMARX via Flickr

I edited this poem I wrote last year, and I like it better. So I am reprinting it, because I haven’t had time to write another, which is sort of a tradition of mine, to give Him a gift of a poem.  I don’t think He minds that I abandon my traditions.

I am so thankful He is enabling me to walk in such peace and rest this Season, as I focus not on traditions and tinsel, but on the wonder of His coming to die for such a wretched sinner as me. Oh, thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

After the angel’s Excelsis Deos, the mess
of this ugly Nativity was so unexpected:
that the stink of dung, not frankincense,
had welcomed Heaven’s exile,
that the cave floor was so smeared with blood,
that the wan mother was fallen into straw–
With suffering His kingdom
began its violent advance.

Yet these smelly vagrants had little interest
in these parents unprepared for their visit.
Their gazes fixed on the mystery
wrapped like  gravecloths,
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow made in cold stone
like a corpse in a sarcophagus:
this was their Savior.

Why do we outfit them all with halos,
snuggle Him in cosy blankets,
sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold? We tell a story
voiced with British accents
for suburban wide screens, drenched in sentiment.
We take the good news from the losers: the orphans,
lepers, hookers, and demoniacs–

Those from the night shift
He was anointed for.
But He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him.  Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
That bright star leads to a tomb.
The sign for you
is  strips of cloth and hollowed-out stone.