A Prayer

Lord if you knew me,
You would not ask me to kneel.
You offer me your son,
but I am no hungry dog to eat flesh,
no loathsome vampire to drink blood,
and forgo humanity
on some distant promise of immortality.

I am a virgin, Oh Lord,
and will not marry myself to you,
will not barter my soul for salvation.

This is my hungry world
and I will not neglect it,
in dreams of paradise.

I will not join your legions.
Such is not my destiny.

I will not whisper
through your iron grates,
these are my secrets,
and I will keep them.

I will not let
your river wash me clean,
these sins have made me
who I am today.

It is not your right
to offer me innocence.
It is not within your power
to forgive me.

Night Spell

The wind stirred up great currents of snow into the air, forming transient patterns like the mumarations of flocks of starlings. These vagabond apparitions appear and disappear in the yellow light of street lamps. The night is full of ghosts. There is the howling of the wind in my ears, like far off coyotes. The beech leaves are rattling in congress with the wind and the still falling snow. Trees rubbing against one another sing and cackle in the depths of the forest. I am out of the lamp light, struggling up a slick road that runs parallel to the trees. The ice sheeted asphalt proves too slick, and I abandon it for the powdery snow on the side, sinking in above my boots. I enter the forest path with some trepidation. Even after all this time I still have to whisper to myself there’s nothing in the woods, there’s nothing in the dark. My mother taught me that. I was a kid with an overactive imagination who could find eldritch shapes in every shadow. My mother told me that when she was young, she was scared to swim in the lake where she couldn’t see the bottom, only dark water going down forever beneath her kicking toes. She would say to herself there’s nothing in the lake, there’s nothing in the dark. But of course there is something in the dark. There is something in the lake and there is something in the woods. It is that “something” that conjures me to go outside tonight. There are a thousand voices singing and a thousand eyes watching. Tonight I can feel that the earth is one creature with thousands of eyes, thousands of voices. These voices seep together in a hum, and that hum coalesces in one low long heart beat. Right now these voices are rich and wild. I will admit they scare me with their utter ferocity. I tried to remember all those days I danced in the wind, called myself its child. But now I felt more the child, with a unknowable parent, a parent with no time to explain things, with grander plans that I could not begin to understand, and which therefore I feared. There was a glorious and vicious jubilation to the cold and the snow and the wind as I stepped out of the woods to the top of the hill. The stinging wind makes my eyes water, which is frustrating because I just want to see. On a clear day, you can see blue mountains stretching out all the way to the horizon. It’s dark tonight and overcast, colorful clouds gallivant across the sky, light blues of a mysterious color that I can’t describe and strange garish pinks from an unknown light source. Phantasms appear in the wind tossed snow dancing madly across the slope. The surrounding mountains are nearly hidden in the madcap mumarations of the snow. But I can feel them looming in the dark. I can feel the cathedralesque openness of the valley below, the land of pine trees stretching out to the mountains. I stood on the hill top and communed with my gods.

Denim Guru

You were a guru in denim,

Sitting cross-legged in your room,

That always smelled of incense-

From the gas station-

In your blue jeans with white knees,

As if you had been praying.

They called you a hippy,

Or a geek-

But I knew you for what you truly were-

The quintessential human-

Reaching out-

WITH NO HOPE

Of catching anything.

As I was driving today

I heard a song that reminded me of you.

“you were my sweetest

downfall…”

In a strange breaking-

Of gender roles-

You were Delilah,

And I, Sampson.

I say I wear my hair short for convenience, but,

It’s really in tribute to you.

The Only Man to Get to Heaven, or My Epiphany on a Sidewalk

I was on a sidewalk in Asheville, NC when the man with the bike approached me. It had already been an interesting and exciting day. It was my first visit to Asheville and I felt the energy that always accompanies exploring a new place. I was with a handful of new friends and was getting to know them. Asheville by day was exotic, invigorating, and new. The fresh wind blew through the streets. The afternoon sky lit up the clouds. Glimpses of mountains loomed between buildings. There was music and chatter everywhere. Night was different. It was still beautiful in its own way. The street lamps lit up and music drifted out of clubs. But there was an edge to this beauty. There were shadows on the edge of those street lamps. There were people I didn’t notice before sitting on sidewalks or benches, obvious that they had nowhere to go. They worried me extremely. We got to the bus stop earlier than planned, so we waited in a small park on the other side of the street. My friends were all smoking their new e-cigarettes and you could see how happy it made them to look so very hip and dangerous (though there wasn’t even nicotine in them). I enjoyed watching them try to blow out more smoke than each other, each pretending they knew everything about e-cigs. Some people stopped by and chatted with us. They had backpacks and worn out clothes. It was obvious that they had been traveling a long time. Of course I have heard all the warnings about talking to strangers, but I felt no fear and only a longing to learn more about there life or even to drop everything and go with them. They were exciting, tranquil, loving people and hugged us goodbye very sweetly. We crossed the street to wait for the bus. As we waited an old black man (aged more with hardships than years) walked up to us guiding a bike. He asked is we had 35 cents. I gave him $3. The humility with which he asked and with which he took the money rocked me to the very core. By his consternation over the $3 you would’ve thought I had given him $300. He almost cried and that made me cry. I turned away and my friends gave him money and talked to him. His name was Ervin and he had a job were he made $60 a day but he gave it away to, well, anyone. He slept in the woods and went without meals so that he could care for anyone he could. He so obviously loved the human race, saying that he loved everyone like his own children. He talked of how Jesus had taught to feed the hungry and to love. Throughout this he was very emotional; trembling, his quiet voice occasionally breaking with desperate sincerity. He was in no way eloquent, but he was passionate. He begged us to take the bike; that he was “tired of it” and wanted someone else to have it. Two of my friends took it to my surprise, but later I learned that they planned to fix it up and try to find him again, or failing that, give it away as instructed. The bus came and before we left, each of us hugged him. Then we climbed on the bus and he was gone from our lives. The moment I sat down I began to sob. My friends comforted me the best they could, supported me through an experience that was so thoroughly mine. One of them, a beautiful and good person, amazingly kind and a deep thinker, handed me a rose she had picked in the park. She told me to keep it, dry it, and hold onto it forever to remember this moment. I remember another friend wrapping his arm around me as I cried and when I sobbed “I don’t know why I’m crying,” he replied “You’re crying because it’s important.”

But why was I crying? It was just how beautiful and how awful this man’s life is. It was his own beauty; his desperation and despair and hope and love, his  humility and his pride in what he did. He is the one true Christian. The basic teachings of the Christian bible are about giving everything you have away and about loving everyone. It sets an impossible standard. Human’s simply can’t live like that and never will. But there will always be that one man, with or without his bike, who is sure of getting to heaven.

I stood on the fire escape of my dorm room. The breeze was still kissing my face. I could see a patch of night sky through the trees. I could hear people moving in the dorms. I stood there and I thought.

The title of this piece says “Epiphany” so you probably expect me to end with a life lesson. Here I must disappoint. Though I am sure I had an epiphany that night, it may take me days or years to figure out exactly what it means. Once I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.

Be patient. It must be important if I was crying.